Europe’s banks are tallying up the losses from Greek sovereign debt, and the picture is not a pretty one. Euro losses in the billions are taking a toll on earnings and banks are posting heavy hits in the midst of a need to find additional capital to meet new banking rules.
Reuters reported Thursday that Dexia, the Franco-Belgian bank that has already received a bailout, reported that it could be forced to go out of business. It declared a net loss for 2011 of 11.6 billion euros ($15.422 billion), thanks not just to Greek debt but also U.S. mortgage-backed securities. It has now booked a loss of 3.4 billion euros on Greek sovereign bonds. There is little left of Dexia in the wake of its breakup last year and the nationalization of its Belgian banking division.
Dexia is far from alone in losses, if other institutions are not in such dire straits. Credit Agricole reported a record quarterly net loss of 3.07 billion euros, 220 million euros charged off on Greek debt, and Jean-Paul Chifflet, its chief executive, said, “We are in the worst economic crisis since 1929.” More write-down on Greek debt are coming in the wake of the new bailout agreement, which has as one of its components a provision that private creditors will accept losses of 74% on sovereign bonds.
Franklin Pichard, director at Barclays France, said of the situation, “We can’t say that the write-downs are over. Even if some can say that the worst is over, we are only at a new stage in terms of provisioning and not necessarily at the end.” If Greece fails to recover after its latest rescue package, additional losses could be in the wings.