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The European Banking Union and the Evolving Universal Banks

Jean-Baptiste Bellon Analyste financier, Trapeza. Contact :
Georges Pauget Président, société de conseil Économie, finance et stratégie. Contact :

The universal banking model, well spread in Europe, is facing a lot of challenges from regulator’s new toolbox in their way to reach a stronger and more sustainable banking system. Banks have first changed to offset the costs linked to the sharp increase of capital ratio in investment banking areas and to the introduction of liquidity and leverage ratio. Banks all around Europe have curb costs and exited or downsized the most capital intensive businesses. Core profitability, excluding litigations and legacy issues, is now back to level in line with cost of equity (8 %). However the slow growth environment should force European bank to continue to restructure. Banks could gain in efficiency through an increase in size in their relevant European markets segment but they have to deal with the systemic charge of size (avoid the ‘too big to fail’ subsidy). Then banks have to make complex arbitrage within market activities and corporate lending, relying on less profitable retail activities due to low interest rate environment. In the tomorrow Banking Union landscape, universal banks should be more integrated and more selective.

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