Stress Tests: Uneasy Silence About Regional Banks

The Wall Street Journal has a nice article outlining the financial situ ation

at the major banks, and an impressive graphic which goes with it.

But for Bank of America which does need to raise a substantial amount of capital, most big banks have come out relatively unscathed.

Media Campaign Gets a Big Thumbs Up

The administration has done an excellent job in managing the market during this process. The banks have been under strict instructions not to say anything about the results.

However, the results have been selectively leaked to the media. The leaks have reinforced the belief that the banks are in a much better shape than some of the nay-sayers were claiming. This has resulted in a massive rally in financials this week, further helping the ability of the banks which need capital to raise capital if needed.

Regional Banks: Where are the Leaks


If there is one glaring gap in the leaks is that there is a virtual black-out about the health fo the regional banks.

There has been no leaks about the capital requirements at the regional banks BB&T, Fifth Third, KeyCorp, PNC Financial, Regions Financial, SunTrust and US Bancorp. Many of these banks, especially Regions, do not have a large cushion of preferred capital to convert

to common.

Risk Concentration: Geographical and Commercial Real Estate

More important, they have a large exposure to commercial real estate and construction investing.

Unlike the large banks whose exposure is primarily to consumers via credit-cards, auto-loand and of course home mortgages, the smaller regional banks are tied much closer to the business activity in their local

region and are hence less diversifed goegraphically.

The commercial real estate market is going through a painful recalibration where inves tors now expect much higher cap rates as the massive risk taking of the past few years is coming back

to haunt the markets.

If the economy resets at a smaller size before growing up, it may take years for the excess capacity to be absorbed forcing many of the leveraged deals used to finance new commercial real estate to tether on the verge of bankruptcy.

Time to Book Profit


As I noted in an earlier post, I have established a position in FAZ, in anticipation of some pr

ofit taking.

I am also concerned that the lack of any leaks about the regional banks does not portend well for what we are likely to hear.

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