Open Europe Blog

Here is the full report (and the bank-by-bank results) from the latest Spanish bank stress test exercise. Below we provide the key points and our initial thoughts on them.

The tests put the total capital needs of Spanish banks at €59.3bn, but Spanish Deputy Finance Minister Fernando Jiménez Latorre (in the picture) just told journalists during the press conference that, assuming that Spanish banks manage to raise part of the money from other sources, the Spanish government could ask the EFSF for “around €40bn” (as we anticipated here).

Key points: 

  • 14 banks assessed, 7 found to be well capitalised, 7 found to need capital injection. Total needs put at €59.3bn. This falls to €53.75bn when the mergers under way and the tax effects are considered;
  • €24.7bn of the total amount is earmarked for Bankia alone, with a further €10.8bn for CatalunyaCaixa and €7.2bn for NovaGalicia;
  • The adverse economic scenario assessed was: 6.5% cumulative GDP drop, unemployment reaching 27.2% and additional drops in house and land price indices of 25% and 60% respectively, for the three-year period from 2012 to 2014;
  • Cumulative credit losses for the in-scope domestic back book of lending assets are approximately €270bn for the adverse (stress) scenario, of which €265bn correspond to the existing book. This compares with cumulative credit losses amounting to approximately €183bn under the base scenario.

Open Europe take: 

  • The base case scenario seems overly optimistic, the adverse scenario looks more realistic – although we expect a fall in house prices of around 35% rather than the 25% assumed. The prediction that unemployment will peak at 27.2% also seems optimistic given that there is plenty more austerity and internal devaluation to come while the structural labour market reforms are yet to take effect.
  • Oliver Wyman’s report strongly assumes that all the previous capital buffers and loan loss provisions have been well implemented with suitable quality of assets. However, this is far from assured;
  • The level of non-performing mortgage loans seems incredibly low at 3.3% currently with losses only predicted to rise to 4.1% under the adverse scenario. This number could well be distorted by forbearance (delaying foreclosing on loans likely to default to avoid taking losses) by struggling banks. It will also massively increase if unemployment and economic growth turn out to be worse than predicted;
  • The levels of recovery on foreclosed assets seem a bit too positive (admittedly a wide range of between 37% – 79% losses depending on type of asset) given the continuing oversupply in the real estate market in Spain. Until the market has fully adjusted, the huge mismatch between supply and demand is likely to keep resale value on foreclosed assets incredibly low;
  • These tests do look to be more intense than the previous ones but ultimately the optimistic assumptions do instantly raise questions over their credibility. The structure of the bailout request is also unlikely to enamour investors, who like to see grand gestures, however, it always positive that taxpayer participation may be limited. 


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