COVID-19 has brought the centrality of the banking industry within the financial sector into sharper focus. Banks’ roles in shepherding their economies through the troubling times of the pandemic and beyond are indisputable; how well they fulfil their mandates will determine the success of the broader recovery in Europe and elsewhere. The road won’t be easy, and the banking sector needs to redefine and restructure itself to meet these challenges. Bank boards will have to take a more prominent role in this process.
Although history doesn’t precisely repeat itself, we can learn much from the past, and this is especially true for banks during a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted widespread health and financial harm. Banks need accurate data to predict how deeply they will suffer from credit risks, and informed analyses of historical data such as loss given default levels are crucial in providing this to them.
Europe’s banks deserve a lot of credit for weathering less than ideal conditions, such as ultra-low interest rates and profitability in conjunction with high levels of fintech competition and toxic debt. But while conditions haven’t improved much lately on the interest-rate side, the bad-debt situation is considerably brighter. Astute regulators and governments deserve much of the credit, but so do the banks themselves for revamping their management of nonperforming loans.
After a heavy recession brought on by the military conflict with Russia, Ukraine’s economy and banking system now appear to be firmly on the mend. Indeed, things have improved to such an extent that by the end of May, Moody’s had revised its outlook for Ukrainian banking from negative to stable.
Around the turn of the year, credit-rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s both upgraded their outlooks for Ireland’s banking system. Their favourable views were largely based on the expectation of improving credit fundamentals in 2016 and 2017