Hoping to quell years of anxiety about Europe’s financial health, regulators said Sunday that all but 13 of the continent’s leading banks have enough capital to ride out another economic storm. The European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority announced the results of a nearly yearlong effort to assess the finances of 150 banks, identifying 13 that still need to come up with a total of €9.5 billion ($12 billion) in extra capital.
Overall, 25 banks technically failed the so-called stress tests, facing a cumulative shortfall of €24.6 billion. But most have already taken steps to solve their problems since the end of 2013, the cutoff date for the exercise. To pass the tests, banks had to show that they had ample capital to survive a crisis that would cause Europe’s economy to fall 7% below current forecasts and the unemployment rate to rise to 13%.
The exams are part of an effort to reassure investors and the public that, following years of destabilizing banking meltdowns and long after the U.S. defused its financial crisis, Europe’s lenders are back on solid footing. Restoring that confidence is a top priority, because the continent’s sluggish economy needs healthy banks to provide loans to households and businesses.
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