The Perfect Storm for Wall Street Banks

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I hate the term “perfect storm” but the attached article makes some great points about bank exposure to energy prices.

It should be noted that Charles Hugh Smith nailed it a month and a half ago; he said, “The 35% drop in the price of oil is the first domino.”

(From Wall Street on Parade)

In early December, Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski noted in a report that plunging oil prices could be the greatest threat to the largest U.S. banks since the epic financial turmoil in 2008 while also warning that visibility into the banks’ loan exposure to the oil and exploration industry is limited.

That’s a very valid point. Another valid point is that visibility into the big banks’ exposure as counterparties to derivatives tied to plunging oil and commodity prices and shaky emerging market debt is also being kept under wraps – at least for now. The only clue as to which banks may take a hit, either from direct exposure or from loans to hedge funds taking a bath in the sectors, is the price action of the bank shares in the open market.

In a December 15 article by Patrick Jenkins in the Financial Times, readers learned that data from Barclays indicated that “energy bonds now make up nearly 16 per cent of the $1.3 trillion junk bond market — more than three times their proportion 10 years ago,” and “Nearly 45 per cent of this year’s non-investment grade syndicated loans have been in oil and gas.”

Click here for the article.