Dealing with the vulnerability of the Italian banking system

Elisabetta Montanaro, Mario Tonveronachi

Abstract


The major vulnerabilities of the Italian banking system are the overhang of NPLs and low profitability. Differently from the attention given to excesses of NPLs, the profitability problem is normally considered to be a matter to be left to bank management and not an area of explicit direct regulatory action. Although focusing on capital requirements, regulators and supervisors seldom pose the question of where capital comes from. Using a large sample of 410 Italian domestic banking groups and individual banks, we propose an NPL stress test and a viability test that show: that the system’s vulnerability is a widespread phenomenon; that a further recapitalisation of around ten billion euro is necessary; and that, more importantly, limiting interventions to the overhang problem does not put the majority of Italian banks into a viability path due to the inefficiencies coming from their current business models. The analysis of the Italian case strengthens the critique of current regulation and supervision because, not focusing on bank profitability, they do not avoid threats on solvency coming from the accumulation of NPLs.  We thus argue that the structural changes necessary to put the Italian banking system into a viable path require new regulatory and supervisory approaches.

JEL codes: G01, G20, G28, G32

Keywords: Banks, NPLs, viability, regulation, supervision, Italy


Keywords


Banks, NPLs, viability, regulation, supervision, Italy

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References


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