Credit Suisse’s setbacks put French and European banks under pressure


Sell ​​first, before sorting. This typical stock market reflex in times of crisis hit European banking stocks again on Wednesday, March 15, with the setbacks of Credit Suisse amplifying the decline that began the previous Friday with the fall of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). In Paris, BNP Paribas and Société Générale saw their quotation briefly suspended in the morning, in application of automatic mechanisms, and yielded at closing respectively 10.1% and 12.2%, while Crédit Agricole SA lost 5.2%.

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Among their big European rivals, UniCredit dropped 7.5% in Milan, Commerzbank 9.6% in Frankfurt. On the day, the European Stoxx index of the banking sector fell by 8.4%; in one week, it has melted by nearly 17%. And the shock did not remain confined to the banks: the CAC 40 index fell by 3.58%, its largest drop in almost a year, investors once again turning away from equities to take refuge on the government bond market.

The financial tension led the Prime Minister to speak out on the subject in the Senate: Elisabeth Borne judged that the Credit Suisse file was “ under the jurisdiction of the Swiss authorities » and that it was up to them to ensure that it was « rule “, a message that Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy, was responsible for transmitting shortly after to his counterpart in Bern. And the tenant of Matignon to add, as the same Bruno Le Maire had declared on Monday, that in France, the banks “are not exposed to any risk as a result of the bankruptcy of the SVB ».

“A classic sheep effect”

Bercy made no official comment on the situation of the French credit institutions themselves and the latter remained silent, applying the well-established principle according to which a listed company does not comment on rumors or fluctuations in its stock market price. In the sector, it is nevertheless recalled that the financial results published in February were excellent, that the stock market value of a bank is unrelated to the strength of its balance sheet and that the levels of liquidity such as the solvency ratios are higher than the requirements set. by the supervisory authorities.

In this case, why such a general punishment on the stock market? A classic sheepskin effect »summarizes Eric Pichet, professor at Kedge Business School. “When there is a jolt on an actor, it’s the whole sector that toasts. »

While bank customers are well protected by deposit guarantee mechanisms, this is not the case for either their shareholders or their bondholders.

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