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Policy Contribution

Crisis management for euro-area banks in central Europe

Euro-area bank integration has decreased as post-financial crisis national rules require banks to hold more capital at home. It might be undermined further by bank resolution planning. Either a Single Resolution Board takes the lead for the entire banking group or independent local intervention schemes need to be developed for crisis resolution.

By: Date: November 19, 2019 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The deep involvement of a number of euro-area banking groups in central and southeastern Europe has benefitted the host countries and has strengthened the resilience of those banking groups. But this integration has become less close because of post-financial crisis national rules that require banks to hold more capital at home, or other ring-fencing measures. There is a risk integration might be undermined further by bank resolution planning, which is now gathering pace.

Regulators and banks will need to decide between two distinct models for crisis resolution, and this choice will redefine banking networks. Most efficient in terms of preserving capital and the close integration of subsidiary operations would be if the Single Resolution Board – the banking union’s central resolution authority – takes the lead for the entire banking group. However, this will require parent banks to hold the subordinated debts of their subsidiaries. Persistent barriers to intra-group capital mobility – or the option for home or host authorities to impose such restrictions – will ultimately render such schemes unworkable.

The second model would involve independent local intervention schemes, which European Union countries outside the banking union are likely to call for. This will require building capacity in local debt markets, and clarifying creditor hierarchies. Exposure to banking risks will ultimately need to be borne by host-country investors. Bail-in capital issued by subsidiaries to their parents cannot be a substitute because it would expose the home country to financial contagion from the host.

To sustain cross-border linkages, banking groups and their supervisors will need to make bank recovery plans more credible, and to strengthen cooperation in resolution colleges (platforms that bring together all relevant parties in resolution planning and execution). Within the banking union there is no justification for the various ring-fencing measures that have impeded the flow of capital and liquidity within banking groups.

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Europe has a heavily bank-based financial structure, but bank-based financial structures are associated with higher systemic risk than market-based financial structures. The higher level of systemic risk in Europe suggests caution when pursuing policies that stimulate risk taking and debt creation by banks, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Priority should be given to financial diversification and equity finance.

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Speakers: Mário Centeno and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 1, 2020
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Though outside the euro area, Denmark and Sweden could benefit from joining the European Union’s banking union. It would provide protection in case of any need to resolve at national level a large bank with a Scandinavian footprint, and would mark a choice in favour of more cross-border banking. But joining the banking union would also involve some loss of decision-making power.

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COVID-19 has triggered a severe recession and policymakers in European Union countries are providing generous, largely indiscriminate, support to companies. As the recession gets deeper, a more comprehensive strategy is needed. This should be based on four principles: viability of supported entities, fairness, achieving societal goals, and giving society a share in future profits. The effort should be structured around equity and recovery funds with borrowing at EU level.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Date: May 15, 2020
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By: Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Arnoud Boot, Elena Carletti, Jan Krahnen, Miguel Otero-Iglesias, Lucrezia Reichlin, Dirk Schoenmaker and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 6, 2020
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Facing the lower bound: what will the ECB do in the next recession?

In responding to the global financial crisis, the ECB has pushed its monetary policy into unchartered territories . Today, it appears increasingly constrained by persistently low interest rates. This paper seeks to understand this challenge and assess whether its toolkit would allow the ECB to weather a European recession.

By: Aliénor Cameron, Grégory Claeys and Maria Demertzis Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 27, 2020
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