Satyajit Das: Banking problems redux

There are over $3 trillion in stressed loan assets globally and the World Bank estimates that the current ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) to total gross loans is around the 2009 levels of 4.2%. European banks have around euro 1.2 trillion of problem loans. Banking systems in many other advanced economies also face increasing risks. NPL problems are also apparent in India, China and Brazil. Solution of banking crises requires strong earnings, capital infusions, isolation of bad loans and industry reforms. But the ability of banks to earn their way out of the crisis to allow losses to be written off is limited. Banking problems represent a major source of continued economic instability. In modern economies, the financial system acts as a reservoir of bad debts, which can create financial crises. A new such episode may be beginning.