Rising unemployment may prompt new capital raisings
The worsening economic slowdown is increasing fears that Britain’s banks will have to raise still more capital next year in a market starved of investors.
Investment bankers are preparing for a second round of capital raising by UK lenders on top of the £65bn already declared. Having rebuilt their balance sheets after toxic debt writedowns, the banks face an increasingly dire economic outlook that threatens to take ordinary loan impairments from individuals and businesses to levels not seen since the early 1990s.
Under those worst-case conditions, impairment charges at the domestic banks – Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and the combined Lloyds Banking Group – could hit £60bn next year, according to Credit Suisse analysts.
“There could be a second credit crunch for banks, with a whole new round of writedowns late in 2009 as the economy filters back to banks,” a senior investment banker said. “They have so far only provisioned for the credit crunch – so they will need to undertake a whole new round of capital raising.”
A trading update earlier this year from HBOS, which will be bought by Lloyds next month, made grim reading for the sector. Impairments from commercial and residential property shot up, and the bank warned of more bad news to come as unemployment, the biggest driver of bad debts, continues to rise.