On the eve of the Greek default I wrote regarding the possibility of the Greece action becoming a Black Swan, now it is clear that Europe is on the edge of a Black Swan Event.

As deleveraging pressures grew towards the end of 2011, European banks offered for sale a significant volume of assets, notably those with high risk weights or market prices close to holding values.

Offerings with high risk weights included low-rated securitised assets, distressed bonds and commercial property and other risky loans. Although some such transactions were completed, others did not go through because the offered prices were below banks' holding values.

Strong deleveraging pressures during the final quarter of 2011 were also associated with weak or negative growth in the volume of credit extended by
many European banks. Credit extended by financial institutions in the euro area, for example, turned down during this period, with credit to non-bank
private sector borrowers in the area falling by around 0.5%, while assets vis-àvis non-euro area residents declined by almost 4%. Outstanding loans to euro area non-financial corporations grew by just over 1% and loans to households for house purchases by around 2%, while consumer credit declined by just over 2%.

European banks also cut lending to emerging markets. Their consolidated foreign claims on emerging Europe, Latin America and Asia had already started to fall in the third quarter of 2011.

New syndicated and large bilateral loans from EU banking groups to emerging market borrowers then fell in the final quarter of the year. This was in contrast to lending to western Europe and other developed countries, which was essentially unchanged . At the same time, banks tightened terms on new loans to corporations and households in emerging markets. The more pervasive tightening in emerging Europe than elsewhere may have reflected the widespread ownership of banks in the region by EU banking groups. Reduced lending to emerging Europe may also reflect lower demand, however, as the region's economic growth forecasts fell by more than those for any other during the final quarter of 2011.

Shayne Heffernan

Shayne Heffernan oversees the management of funds for institutions and high net worth individuals.

Shayne Heffernan holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reached a peak market cap of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.Read the Terms of Service