After 47 years of membership in the EU and 1,645 days since the British citizens voted their way out, finally early in the afternoon of the 24th, negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost reported on the agreement on the conditions of exit and their new commercial relationship, which amount to near €900 Bn annually. This last minute deal avoids one of the biggest risks facing the Eurozone in recent years, but it is “vague in many aspects” and “both parties will force specific changes in the future”, say analysts.
Scope Ratings | The pandemic showed that in times of crisis, politicians, supervisors, and central banks are willing to extend significant help to the banking sector. No major European bank has come close to resolution this year; nor will any in the near future in our view. Credit markets took note. After an initial scare in March, senior spreads tightened close to pre-crisis levels. Our view is that banking is turning into utilities and that the sector is becoming what it should be: boring.
Ranko Berich (Monex Europe) | The details of the deal will be digested by markets over the coming weeks, after traders have finished digesting Christmas lunch. Given the lack of fanfare over services provisions, the EU has likely retained the prerogative for equivalence recognition, importantly for financial services. If this is indeed the case this deal is at best a disincentive for investment in financial services in the UK, and at worst hangs a sword of damocles above the City and the wider economy.
The European Commission is concerned about the management of NPLs after the impact of the pandemic and the economic slowdown in the Q4. However, Brussels is reluctant to create a bad bank, mainly because of the high costs of creating a European agency to manage these assets. Instead, the EC proposes to reform the insolvency and debt recovery regime, with the aim of unifying legislation at European level. At the same time, making it easier for banks to get rid of doubtful assets on their balance sheets.
The positive trend in the euro area trade balance increased in October by 10.3% year-on-year, reaching 30 billion euros, according to data on international trade in goods published by Eurostat. By items, exports of goods from the euro area to the rest of the world contracted by 9%, to 199.3 billion euros. The fall was offset by a sharper decline in exports, which fell by 11.7%, to 169.3 billion euros. Commercial activity amongst the euro members fell by 6.8% in the tenth month of the year, to 166.1 billion euros.
David Collins via The Conversation | The terms “Australian-style” or “Canadian-style” Brexit are meant to convey to the British public the kind of trade relationship they can expect with the EU if no preferential free trade agreement (FTA) is concluded between the UK and the EU at the end of the transition period. They are a short-hand way of telling the public that it is perfectly normal not to be a member of the EU or Single Market, because both Australia and Canada manage this and remain functional and amicable trading partners with the EU.
Adriá Morrón Salmerón (CaixaBank Research) | The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a sharp increase in debt. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, public debt ratios have risen suddenly and significantly to almost unprecedented levels (the historical precedents are closely linked to major wars). For instance, in Italy and Spain a jump of +25 pps of GDP is expected in just one year, whereas it took five and three years, respectively, to amass a similar increase after the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
The Supervisory Board of the European Central Bank yesterday agreed to lift the veto on banks’ dividends. However, it is urging them not to distribute more than 15% of accumulated profits in 2019-2020, nor exceed 0.20 points of the CET1 capital ratio. From both options they have to choose the lesser one. The measure will be in force until end-September 2021, when it will be reviewed to see if it can be lifted in light of the economic situation.
Scope Ratings | European banks have proven resilient in the face of Covid-19. There has been no banking crisis and no bank has come close to resolution. Supportive fiscal, monetary and supervisory policies have offset credit, funding and solvency risks. Most banks entered the crisis with healthy balance sheets. Balancing the stabilisation effect of the expected rebound against asset-quality deterioration, and factoring in business-model adjustments will underpin our rating approach to the EU banking sector next year.
Crédito y Caución (Atradius) | Bulgaria’s monetary policy framework is strong, with a solid commitment to its currency board arrangement (the lev has been pegged to the euro since 1997). As a result, the Bulgarian Central Bank usually follows monetary policy decisions made by the European Central Bank. Although Bulgaria entered the Exchange Rate Mechanism II of the EU in June 2020, an adoption of the euro seems rather unlikely in the short run. While the currency peg supports foreign investor confidence, it somehow limits Bulgaria’s ability to combat external imbalances.