Italy’s ‘Bad Banks,’ Created to Save the Financial System, Are Themselves on Verge of Collapse

‘The 20 billion the government has set aside is starting to look like small beer.’ By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET. Officially dubbed ‘Bad Banks’ – not to be confused with the plain-vanilla bad banks that brought the global financial system to the brink of meltdown – are all the rage these days, particularly in bad-loan-infested Europe. And if the European Central Bank gets its way, their numbers could be set to expand even further. On Friday, ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio called for the creation of a whole new class of government-backed bad banks to help buy some of the 1 trillion in unpaid loans that have weighed on Eurozone banks since the financial crisis.
Here’s how it would work: the already deeply indebted governments in question would issue a load of new debt in order to buy up, supposedly at a heavy discount, billions of euros worth of toxic loans festering on the balance sheets of the banks. In other words, unless you’re a senior banker working for an insolvent bank, or an investor with sizable holdings of slowly putrefying bank shares or bonds, these taxpayer-funded bad banks are by nature a bad idea, as Spanish economist Juan Ramn Rallo warns:
A bad bank is a mechanism for redistributing the wealth of a country from its taxpayers to the shareholders, executives, workers and creditors of financial institutions… The logic is disarmingly simple: if the only party willing to buy the [toxic] assets at the prices [offered by the banks] is the State, the chances are that the assets are not worth what the State is paying for them.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Feb 4, 2017.