IMF published its staff report under the 2018 Article IV consultation with Germany. Directors noted that profitability in the bank and life insurance sectors remains low and that restructuring efforts must be accelerated to durably strengthen resilience and reduce risks. They stressed the importance of continued supervisory attention to progress in implementing restructuring plans and reducing interest rate risk in banking and insurance.
The staff report highlights that completion of Basel III, as well as other recent regulatory changes, may have important implications for large German banks. After a long period of favorable economic conditions, banks’ internal risk models may underestimate risk-weights. The introduction of the 72.5% output floor is aimed to limit the effects of sharp re-assessments of risks on bank capital. As the use of internal models is more pervasive in large banks, this measure will affect mostly this group. In addition, the report highlighted that the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFiD II), which came into force in January 2018, aims to increase transparency and efficiency in financial trading, but may also add regulatory compliance costs in the larger banks. Furthermore, the 2017 minimum requirement for own funds and eligible liabilities (MREL) policy of EU sets targets that are binding only for larger/more complex banks in the Single Resolution Board remit, while smaller and medium-size institutions are not yet affected. Few banks are expected to face funding shortfalls to meet MREL target and subordination requirements are facilitated by recent changes to the German Banking Act.
In the banking sector, the regulatory capital ratio has increased, but the cost-to-income ratio and leverage remain high. Risk-weighted capital stood at comfortable levels, supported by favorable macroeconomic conditions and declining risk-weighted asset density, and is improving for all categories, except large banks. Non-performing loans (NPLs) continue to decline and provisioning for impaired shipping loans is leveling off. As noted in the 2016 Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP), international experience suggests that macro-prudential tools should be deployed early to be most effective. It is therefore important that the macro-prudential framework is sufficiently nimble such that instruments can be utilized preventively to avoid the build-up of vulnerabilities. The macro-prudential toolkit should be strengthened. New tools—loan to value (LTV) caps and amortization requirements—were legally created in 2017, a welcome development. However, income-based instruments, such as the debt-to-income ratio and the debt-service-to income ratio, are not included in the legislation. These tools, which can help prevent an excessive build-up of debt by households when house prices are rising rapidly, should be added.
Large German banks continue to underperform relative to the European peers. To keep up with cost-reduction targets, the German global systemically important bank (G-SIB) presented an updated restructuring strategy to refocus activities in Europe and reduce personnel costs by shrinking its investment banking business. Overall, the financial market stress is assessed to be low, capital buffers in the banking and life insurance sectors are deemed comfortable. Nevertheless, accelerating restructuring, restoring profitability, and reducing interest rate risk remain the key priorities in the banking and life insurance sectors. Continued supervisory attention to interest rate risk and implementation of restructuring plans, including through Pillar 2 measures, remains essential. The report also reveals that low interest rates and the introduction of Solvency II are forcing some restructuring in the life insurance sector. Solvency ratios, according to Solvency II, have improved overall, alongside the increase in long-term yields, since late 2016. However, a majority (nearly 70%) of life insurers rely on transitional measures to calculate their solvency capital requirement. As was noted in the Bundesbank’s 2017 Financial Stability Report, 14 life insurers would not meet the Solvency II minimum requirement as of end of 2016 without transition measures.
Related Link: Staff Report
Keywords: Europe, Germany, Banking, Insurance, Securities, Solvency II, Basel III, MiFID II, NPLs, Restructuring, IMF
Previous ArticleSEC Adopts Changes to Public Liquidity Risk Management Disclosure
PRA published a set of questions and answers (Q&A) covering common queries regarding residential and commercial property valuations, for the purpose of the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR), during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
IOSCO proposed updates to its principles for regulated entities that outsource tasks to service providers.
MAS announced that the first phase of the Veritas initiative will commence with the development of fairness metrics in credit risk scoring and customer marketing.
BoE published the Statistical Notice 2020/4 to update the buy-to-let (BTL) Phase 2 and Phase 3 definitions for the Interest Rate Type data item.
FSI published a brief note that examines challenges facing the banking sector as a result of the payment deferral programs put in place to support borrowers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
PRA published the policy statement PS14/20, which contains the supervisory statement SS1/20 and the feedback to responses to the consultation paper CP22/19 on expectations for investment by firms in accordance with the Prudent Person Principle, or PPP, as set out in the Investments Part of the PRA Rulebook.
EBA published an opinion following the notification by the French macro-prudential authority, the Haut Conseil de Stabilité Financière (HCSF), of its intention to extend a measure introduced in 2018 on the use of Article 458(9) of the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR).
As part of a Research Bulletin on the recent policy-relevant work, ECB published an article that examines the lessons learned from past crises for nonperforming loan resolution in the post COVID-19 period.
RBNZ published the financial stability report for May 2020. This review of the financial system in the country highlights that the economic disruption associated with COVID-19 will present challenges to the financial system.
ECB updated the guidance notes for reporting related to the statistics on holdings of securities by reporting banking groups (SHSG).