Some interesting items from Bloomberg:

Europe’s Banks Keep Getting Bigger

If they were too big to fail before, they’re even bigger now! http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aRDrzOAWRekc&pos=1

  • Fifteen European banks now have assets larger than their home economies
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s assets ballooned 2,914 percent in the 10 years through 2008 as it made acquisitions, boosted trading and increased lending.
  • Edinburgh based RBS spent $140 billion on takeovers during the period.
  • Paris-based BNP Paribas, the world’s biggest bank by assets, increased its balance sheet by 59 percent to 2.29 trillion euros ($3.5 trillion) since the beginning of 2007, an amount equal to 117 percent of France’s gross domestic product.
  • Assets at London-based Barclays jumped 55 percent to 1.55 trillion pounds ($2.6 trillion), or 108 percent of U.K. GDP.
  • Santander’s rose 30 percent to 1.08 trillion euros, about the size of Spain’s GDP.
  • Deutsche Bank AG, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA and UniCredit SpA, all of which expanded over the past three years, have below average risk-adjusted capital ratios, a measure of their ability to withstand losses, according to a Nov. 23 report by Standard & Poor’s.
  • Zurich-based UBS AG has reported 57.5 billion Swiss francs ($57.8 billion) of losses and writedowns since the credit crisis began, the most in Europe, and received a 6 billion-franc bailout from the Swiss government. The bank has reduced its assets by 37 percent since the start of 2007.
  • European governments overall have provided $5.3 trillion of aid to banks in the past two years.


  • The five biggest U.S. lenders — Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — held $8.3 trillion in assets as of Sept. 30, an amount equal to about 60 percent of GDP and more than three times the $2.5 trillion in assets held by the top five financial companies in 1999.
  • In the U.K., the five largest banksHSBC Holdings Plc, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds and Standard Chartered Plc — have 6.1 trillion pounds of assets, or about four times GDP. A decade ago, the top five banks had 1.2 trillion pounds in assets.

European banks report assets under International Financial Reporting Standards, which require them to list the value of all derivatives. U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles allow lenders to report the net value of such securities.


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