A Waiting Game
A few thoughts on why the Banks are not lending. By Golem XIV.
Governments, so they tell us, want the banks to lend into the real economy to get people working, earning, buying and paying both their taxes and their debts. Problem is, I do not think the financial industry shares this desire. They say they do. They say they are doing their bit. But they are not. The abject failure of the UK’s 2011 ‘Project Merlin’ is a good example. Project Merlin was the voluntary agreement between UK banks and government to set and meet targets for lending to small and medium businesses. The big five UK banks all agreed to lend. The data showed, however, that they all lent less in every quarter. I talked to the CEO of a UK bank which specializes in raising capital for medium sized businesses and he told me there was less and less funding around. He said the big banks and the big funds simply didn’t want to know. They had other plans.
Of course if the banks had no money to lend then the mystery would evaporate. The story would be they’re not lending because they can’t, because they have no money. But the banks do have money. Lots of it. We are so mesmerized by those banks which are close to the edge – like theSpain’s moribund Bankia and the rest of Spain’s Cajas that we forget others have lots of cash. I’m not saying the headlines aren’t correct. They are. Spain’s banks are now totally dependant on massive loans from the ECB. The amount they have to borrow from the ECB has gone up every month for the last ten. Last month they borrowed €402.19 Billion. Nearly half a trillion. The rest of Europe’s fine banking system borrows another €600 billion or so.
Full article here.