Bank atlas 2003: The crisis that never was
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Bank atlas 2003: The crisis that never was

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PERHAPS THE MOST remarkable news from the banking industry during the past 18 months was that no generalized disaster arose. Many observers had expected a banking crisis similar to the last major one in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It hasn't materialized. Banks in the industrialized world do not appear to face imminent collapse, or even a more remote one. For the first time in recent memory, a corporate credit crisis did not lead to a banking crisis.

By and large, Moody's Investors Service's ratings on the industrialized world's banks have remained quite stable. Some ratings have dropped (especially in Germany), others have risen, but most did not budge. We should expect the same trend for the rest of the year.

Bank results in 2002 ranked in general from weak to normal, with very few spectacular positive jumps. But they are in most part a consequence of higher loan-loss provisions and lower revenues as a result of a decline in new lending and in investment-related activities (such as asset management, private banking, or bancassurance).

Cyclical effects Higher provisions reflect, however, a low point in the economic cycle rather than the lending excesses so evident during the last banking crisis.

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