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Financial stability of eurozone banks remains fragile: ECB

Published : 23 Nov 2023, 01:38

  DF News Desk
Luis de Guindos, Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB). File Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa.

Banks in the eurozone remain vulnerable to external shocks, the European Central Bank said on Wednesday at the presentation of its semi-annual Financial Stability Review, reported dpa.

"The weak economic outlook along with the consequences of high inflation are straining the ability of people, firms and governments to service their debt," ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said.

"It is critical that we remain vigilant as the economy transitions to an environment of higher interest rates coupled with growing uncertainties and geopolitical tensions."

Financial institutions have benefited from the rapid rise in interest rates since July 2022 because they earn money from higher lending rates and receive interest themselves when they deposit money with the ECB.

However, banks in Germany, for example, have many long-term loans with relatively low interest rates on their books, and demand for new financing has tended to decline in recent months. On the property markets, the turnaround in interest rates has put an end to years of rising prices, while higher financing costs are becoming a burden for commercial properties.

Banks in the eurozone "see profitability benefit from rising interest rates but face headwinds from higher funding costs, worsening asset quality and lower lending volumes," the ECB reported.

Overall, the eurozone banking system is "well placed to withstand these risks."

However, the ECB believes that the recently increased capital buffers, for example for possible setbacks on the property markets, should be maintained.