There is simply no tradition of radical bank resolution in Europe. European bank supervisors are national operators by temperament, not international referees. They see their job as colluding with their national banking sectors to protect them against foreign competition. When a crisis occurs, they let the next economic recovery take care of the problem, rather than resolving it by reducing banking capacity. While I do believe that a banking union constitutes an important reform in the long run, it is very naive to think that the newly appointed bank supervisors are going to resolve the European banking sector with a determination they never displayed in their capacity as national supervisors.
This leaves us with a bank resolution strategy – if you want to call it that – that begins with an inadequate bank recapitalisation, on the basis of dubious stress tests and asset quality reviews, and is followed by further piecemeal steps in later years as the shortcomings of the strategy become more evident. All this will be accompanied by regulatory forbearance. We are already seeing this process at work in Spain.
Leaving it to the next recovery to take care of the problem will not work this time because the credit crunch and debt deflation prevent the recovery. Resolution is a precondition for growth…
That is from Wolfgang Münchau at the FT.