Around 1.2 trillion euros ($1.7 trillion) of non-performing loans (NPLs) are parked on European banks’ balance sheets, underscoring the ongoing malaise in peripheral European nations.
Despite investor optimism and upbeat growth data suggesting that Europe is en route to economic recovery, banks’ holdings of NPLs — defined by the European Central Bank (ECB) as loans on which no repayments have been made in the last 90 days — have increased by nearly 100 billion euros over the last year, according to professional services firm PwC. At the end of 2012, banks held 1.19 trillion euros in bad loans, up on 1.09 trillion euros in 2011.
The rise in NPLs has been driven largely by countries in struggling Southern Europe — mainly Italy, Spain and Greece — and Ireland.
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