Policy brief

Tackling Europe’s crisis legacy: a comprehensive strategy for bad loans and debt restructuring

Years after the start of the financial crisis, non-performing loans and private debt remain obstacles to the recovery of bank credit and investment.

Publishing date
21 April 2017

Eight years after the start of Europe’s financial crisis, the legacy of non-performing loans and excessive private debt remains a key obstacle to the recovery of bank credit and investment.

The efforts to reduce and remove NPLs from the balance sheets of creditors must simultaneously remove excess debt from the balance sheets of debtors. This is the only way to ensure that bank balance sheets are restored to health sustainably, and that both supply and demand for new credit revive.

About the authors

  • Maria Demertzis

    Maria Demertzis is the interim Director at Bruegel. She has previously worked at the European Commission and the research department of the Dutch Central Bank. She has also held academic positions at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the USA and the University of Strathclyde in the UK, from where she holds a PhD in economics. She has published extensively in international academic journals and contributed regular policy inputs to both the European Commission's and the Dutch Central Bank's policy outlets.

  • Alexander Lehmann

    Alexander Lehmann joined Bruegel in 2016 and is now a non-resident fellow. His work at Bruegel focuses on EU banking and capital markets, private debt issues and sustainable finance. He also heads educational programmes in development and sustainable finance at the Frankfurt School of Finance.

    Until 2016, Alex was the Lead Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) where he led the strategy and economics unit for central Europe and Baltic countries. At EBRD, and in numerous subsequent advisory roles, he has worked with central banks, EU institutions and international development institutions on capital market development, financial stability and crisis recovery. Previously, Alex was an official at the International Monetary Fund, a consultant for the World Trade Organisation and the central Bank of Mexico, and held academic positions at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and the London School of Economics. He has published widely on trade and competition policies, and on financial regulation and banking policies in the euro area and emerging markets. He holds a graduate degree in economics from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from Oxford University.

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