The missing Capital Buffer.
Six years after Europe’s sovereign debt crisis began, the Eurozone’s third largest economy, Italy, has finally decided to do what just about every other country has done when facing a full-blown, almost out-of-control banking crisis: to set up a bad bank to hide its worst debt.
It was only a matter of time: in the last six years, Europe’s economies have been drowning in an ever-expanding vitrine of bad debt — and none more so than Italy, where non-performing loans have soared to more than 350 billion euros, a fourfold increase since the end of 2008. At 18%, Italy’s ratio of nonperforming loans is more than four times the European average (and Europe’s banks are in worse shape than America’s). It’s the equivalent of 21% of GDP in a country that boasts Europe’s second highest public debt-to-GDP ratio (130%), just behind Greece, and where the banks hold over 70% of the country’s debt. In other words, ouch…
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