Memories of Sisyphus: European banks are back where they started
European banks have enjoyed a good start to the year. Revenues have risen, much more than costs. Loan loss provisions have remained low. Bottom-line profit has jumped by more than 40% compared with 12 months ago. However, the rebound has followed what was a weak period in the previous year – in fact, the industry is in many ways just back where it was in Q1 2015. What is more, judging only by the P&L, there has been relatively little change since the European debt crisis erupted in Greece seven years ago. The industry has more or less been treading water ever since, a frustrating experience after decades of strong growth and massive recent restructuring efforts. However, other performance indicators clearly show major improvements, not least with regard to banks’ de-risking and buildup of capital.

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