Thursday, July 30, 2009

ECB says that net tightening of lending standards "halved"

If you asked me, this constitutes good(ish) news: according to the European Central Bank's Q2 2009 bank lending survey (data here), the number of banks tightening standards is falling across all loan types. The credit crisis in Europe has likely passed...

From Q1 2009 to Q2 2009, the diffusion of banks tightening standards dropped off, while demand for lending remains generally quite weak (given the starting point (Q1 2009), green is good news, orange is marginally good news, and red is not so good).
  • 79% of banks told the ECB that credit standards on firm lending went unchanged in Q2 2009, up from just 57% in Q1 and 34% in Q4 2008. 21% tightened their standards further, but mostly just "somewhat". No banks eased their lending standards.
  • 75% of banks told the ECB that credit standards on mortgage lending went unchanged in Q2 2009, which is relatively unchanged from the 72% in Q1. 23% tightened their standards further, but mostly just "somewhat". One bank eased its standards "somewhat".
  • A similar story to the previous bullet point for consumer credit standards (credit cards and other consumer loans: auto, student, etc.).
  • The evidence on demand for firm credit is still quite weak. The percentage of banks indicating that demand for loans declined in Q2 is still rather high, 42/100.
  • Alternatively, the evidence for homebuyers is quite shocking: in net, 4% of banks reported an increase in the demand for mortgage lending. This number has not been positive since Q2 2006. Of course, standards are still tightening, so it is tough to get the loans.
  • Demand for consumer credit is still declining in net.
Overall, it looks like the worst of the credit crunch has passed across the Eurozone. But with the unemployment rate rising, and expected to rise for some time, these standards will likely stay tight....but normal "business cycle tight" rather than "credit crisis tight".

Rebecca Wilder

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