European Banks

| Sun Sep. 21, 2008 2:03 PM EDT

EUROPEAN BANKS....A few days ago I asked whether any big European banks had collapsed. A couple of days later HBOS essentially did just that. Today, via Matt Yglesias, Daniel Gros and Stefano Micossi suggest that European banks are actually worse off than American banks:

The dozen largest European banks have now on average an overall leverage ratio (shareholders equity to total assets) of 35, compared to less than 20 for the largest US banks. But at the same time most large European banks also report regulatory leverage ratios of close to 10. Part of the difference is explained by the fact that the massive in-house investment banking operations of European banks are not subject to any regulatory capital requirement.

....The key problem on this side of the Atlantic is that the largest European banks have become not only too big to fail but also too big to be saved. For example, the total liabilities of Deutsche Bank (leverage ratio over 50!) amount to around 2,000 billion euro, (more than Fannie Mai) or over 80 % of the GDP of Germany....With banks that have outgrown national regulators and the financing capacities of national treasuries, European central banks and regulators are living on borrowed time. They cannot simply develop "road maps" but must contemplate a worst case scenario.

For now, I'm passing this along without comment. Just something to keep an eye on while we all contemplate the end of the world.

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.