Montanino argues ECB’s comprehensive assessment is a sign of a healthy banking system

The Atlantic Council held a members’ call on Monday, October 27 with incoming Global Business and Economics Director Andrea Montanino. The call was in response to the ECB’s results of its highly-anticipated comprehensive assessment, combining an in-depth asset quality review of the Eurozone’s 150 largest banks and a macro-level stress test. These two tools are designed to gauge the overall health of the Eurozone’s banking sector, and give investors and countries insight into how the Eurozone’s banks are performing.


The announcement on Sunday was the culmination of a year of robust and comprehensive analysis by the ECB with the aim of restoring confidence to the banking sector in the Eurozone. The total shortfall of twenty-five banks from all across the Eurozone was reported at €24.6 Billion, which would indicate that several large, important banks within the zone must work intensely over the course of the next six months to raise capital shares in order to adhere to the ECB’s requirements.

Montanino’s took a much more optimistic view of these findings than what was reported in the media. “This figure of a €24.6 Billion shortfall does not take into consideration that these figures come from December of 2013. During this almost year-long comprehensive assessment process, those very twenty-five banks that failed the test have already raised €15 Billion in capital funds. When you add this number to the shortfall, you end up with fifteen banks with shortfalls. But, on top of this capital injection, if you add restructuring plans for several banks with Portugal, Italy, and Greece, you really end up with more like seven to eight banks with shortfalls,” stated Montanino.

Montanino argued that if only seven to eight banks need to raise €10 Billion in shortfalls, then the Eurozone is actually looking at an extremely positive outlook scenario for its banking sector. However, based on this positive assessment, there is still skepticism that a bright outlook for Europe’s banks will not mean much for overall Eurozone growth. Deflation is still a huge concern in the interior countries of the zone, while high public debt and unemployment in countries like Italy and France continue to crush optimism. Given the overall health of the banking sector, there is still surmounting fear of weak demand, where even in the best scenario for the ECB would mean stagnate growth for the Eurozone without intervention from governments.

Governments will most likely still continue to explore ways to boost growth through infrastructure investment, and possibly still through quantitative easing. However, this comprehensive assessment is a step towards a more secure and coordinated banking union for the future, and also a boost of confidence for the Eurozone on its long road to economic recovery.

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