Here’s an optimistic headline on the Financial Times that could easily be off by a factor of 10 or more: Spain’s banks need €10bn more provisions.
Spanish banks will need to put aside extra provisions of up to €10bn to cover loans that borrowers will struggle to repay, according to an internal estimate by the Bank of Spain.
According to recent data, Spanish banks rolled over more than €200bn of loans before they expired – often because corporate borrowers would be unable to repay their debt on time and in full. The €10bn estimate is the first official assessment of the likely impact of the central bank’s new approach towards these refinanced loans.
The Bank of Spain believes that the risks emanating from this practice, known as “extend and pretend”, have not been fully covered and is pressing all banks to reclassify their refinanced loans according to tighter standards by the end of September. The new regime will make it harder for banks to treat refinanced loans as if they were performing normally, in turn forcing lenders to take additional provisions.
“Our banks will need more provisions,” a senior official at the Bank of Spain told the Financial Times. “The provisions will affect their results, but the question is by how much. We cannot know for sure but we think the impact will be between €5bn and €10bn [in provisions] across the system.”
€10bn or €100bn?
Banks rolled over €200bn of loans because they could not pay debt on time, pretending the loans were current, and the Bank of Spain estimates the risk at a mere €10bn.
Who do they think they are they fooling?
Will 70% of those loans be paid back? 50%? 20%? I don’t know but I strongly suggest it sure will not be 95%.
Given the perpetual over-optimism on Spanish bank losses, I estimate there is a 0% chance the losses on this disclosure will be as little as €10bn.
That said, I do not know what the existing loan loss provisions are, but if they are high enough (extremely doubtful), then there is some chance the losses will be on the order of €30bn or so (on the general principle things are typically 300% worse than the optimistic scenario).
This does not factor in losses on Spanish government bonds when Spain eventually seeks a massive bailout. Realistically, Spanish banks are insolvent.
Another Warning Call!
By the way, this is yet another warning call “If you have money in Spanish banks, move it somewhere else immediately!”
Mike “Mish” Shedlock