European banks are preparing for a potential worsening of the region’s sovereign and banking crisis, with many firms stockpiling cash and cutting back on loans to new clients as they seek to protect themselves against a possible seizing-up of financial markets.
Faced with 650 billion euros of debt coming due this year – almost 40 percent of which matures before the end of March – lenders are choosing to build up a cash cushion to ensure they can cover redemptions, creating a squeeze on the wider economy in the process.
“The big concern is that things might get worse,” said Bernd Hartwig, treasury manager at Nord/LB. “Political decisions are taking too long and most banks are building up liquidity just in case something happens. They are very worried that a new crisis could be a bigger than 2008.”
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