Biggest European banks about $350 billion short of Basel III capital

12/20/2010 11:30 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

More bad news for European banks in the latest report from the folks charged with setting up the rules for the new Basel III rules for global banking.

First, some good news. Regulators have calculated that the 94 biggest banks in the world would be about $770 billion short of the amount of risk-free capital they’ll need under the rules endorsed by the leaders of the G20 countries. How is that big a shortfall good news? Because the Basel III rules give banks until 2019 to meet these capital standards and regulators project that normal profits would be enough, if retained by the banks (bad news there for dividends), to meet the new standards by 2019.

Second, and this is the bad news for European banks, the Committee of European Banking Supervisors, using the same standards as the Basel III regulators did, calculate that the 50 largest banks in Europe are $350 billion short of meeting those same rules for risk-free capital.

Add in the other banks in Europe outside the 50 largest and I think it’s safe to say that Europe’s banks account for more than half the $770 billion estimated global risk-free capital short fall.

As regulators note, banks have a long-time to make up that capital gap. But I’m sure that banks that don’t face a capital gap, which includes many more conservatively capitalized Asian banks, will be more than happy to use the “problem” as a competitive weapon.

As is true so often, it looks like those who “have” will “get.”

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