ECB Considering Requesting A Rise In Capital

Tyler Durden's picture

Reuters is reporting that the ECB is considering requesting a rise in capital. It is unclear how much would be requested, but a "doubling" is considered. The current subscribed capital at the ECB is  €5.8 billion currently, and  payments for the ECB capital hike would be staggered. Presumably this is to validate that the backstopper of all those other insolvent, pardon, stress test-passing banks (just like the Irish ones during stress test 1) that will soon pass Euro stress test 2 with flying colors, is not itself insolvent. And now for some compare and contrast: the ECB has €5.8 billion of capital on €1.924 trillion of assets: roughly 331x leverage. As a reminder the Fed has $57 billion leverage on $2,385 billion in assets, or a 42x leverage ratio. On the other hand, the ECB only holds €72 billion in directly purchased
bonds as part of its "assets", whereas the bulk of the Fed's assets are
rate-sensitive instruments: roughly $2.1 trillion in "securities held
outright." The bottom line: the ECB uses about 8 times more leverage than the Fed, which means that the two biggest hedge funds in the world can sustain a combined $65 billion in asset value reductions before they are technically insolvent. Of course, that would be the case in an ideal world where data actually mattered, and capital deficiencies could not be plugged up by just printing some more worthless linen.

From RTE:

The European Central Bank is reported to be considering asking for an
increase in its capital from euro zone member states. This is according
to a report from the Reuters news agency, which quoted euro zone
central bank sources.

One source said among the options being discussed was a doubling of
the ECB's capital. Another source said it was not yet clear how much the
bank would ask for.

The report quoted one source as saying that the ECB was worried about
potential losses from its purchases of euro zone government bonds.

The bank's subscribed capital is almost €5.8 billion, compared with a
balance sheet of almost €138 billion, according to its latest annual

All of the EU's 27 national central banks contribute to the ECB's
capital. The 16 countries already using the euro make up 705 of the

National central banks can increase their capital in a number of
ways, including government injections, selling off assets, using
reserves or by maintaining profits.

A decision to bolster the ECB's capital now would come at a time when
central banks and governments are struggling with the cost of the
financial crisis and recent turmoil on the euro zone's financial and
debt markets.

Greece and Ireland have been bailed out to the tune of almost €200
billion while many parts of Europe are straining under intense austerity
programmes. Reuters quoted one of its sources as saying that it was not
clear whether any new money would come from the central banks or from

As the euro zone's largest economy, Germany currently contributes
almost a fifth of the ECB's capital. France pays in just over 14%.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
TheGreatPonzi's picture

It doesn't seem to cause panic in the markets, nor in precious metals. Deflation is definitely ruled out. And for those who point out the falling prices of ultraleveraged homes:

"The money supply does not shrink just because somebody's house falls in price, because somebody else's house down the block sold for 10% less this year than it did last year. The money supply has not changed at all. The money is in somebody's bank account. If one person loses money in a transaction, somebody else will be able to buy whatever it was that fell in price. He will buy it because he has money in a bank account. When he writes a check to buy the item, that money is transferred to the seller's bank account. The money supply has not changed."

Plainview's picture


The property market is not a zero sum game, that is absurd.

TheGreatPonzi's picture

Money supply is not destroyed. The price is destroyed, yes, but not money supply.


etrader's picture

Do we take it the ECB disagree with the  BIS Quarterly Review out today then :-)



Plainview's picture

If your house falls $100k in December that $100k is not in somebody else's bank account. It has vanished. In a world where credit = money = credit then it is entirely equivalent to the destruction of money.

AnAnonymous's picture

If your house rises $1M in December, that $1M is not in somebody else's bank account.


The money used to build the house is circulated. Everyone got paid to build the house.

TheGreatPonzi's picture

"That $100k" never existed. It was an artificial valuation, based on nothing. It was not value, and cannot be money, because houses are not money, but assets. What was it, then? A price.

What was destructed was the amount of money someone could have paid for purchasing the asset. There is no physical destruction in the money supply.

In a world where monetary standards do not exist, deflation cannot exist, and has indeed never existed. How many deflations since 1933 in the world? Not heard of anything. How many hyperinflations? Approx. 10.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

I do not think you understand the issue.

If the price goes down, the % of houses underwater increases, and about 45% of those eventually default on their mortgage.

Regardless of FASB, a defaulted mortgage is an asset the bank used to have that it no longer does.  It has the residual value of the house.  If THAT continues to decline, then the value of the asset On The Bank Books also declines, especially if the foreclosed house is liquidated.  The bank then has to buttress its capital ratio.

Money is destroyed.


TheGreatPonzi's picture

I do know there is a destruction of money in the event of default.

But there is no destruction of money caused by falling prices, except very indirectly (falling prices -> increase in underwater homes -> increase in default -> shrink of the monetary supply -> falling prices). Many people on ZH seem to think that when the artificial valuation of homes fall, the monetary supply falls by the same amount.

There has been a 50% decrease of home prices since 2006, reaching 90% in some areas of Florida and Michigan. Though, income and other prices have been steady.

As it is obvious that both the FED and the US gov cannot and will not accept any default from mortgage providers themselves, deflation will not happen.

LawsofPhysics's picture

The velocity of money is curtailed however.

Bam_Man's picture

Real estate is not money.

The only way in which the money supply is affected by falling real estate values is when a mortgagee defaults, resulting in a net credit loss to a bank.

When as a result of the loss, the bank acts to re-plenish its capital, then and only then is the money supply affected ("money" must leave the "money supply" to become bank capital).

It is amazing to see how many otherwise smart people do not understand (or pretend to understand, but don't) how this actually works.

TheGreatPonzi's picture

We should also note that the net loss in monetary supply is only 10% of the mortgage par value, thanks to fractional banking.

If a $300,000 mortgage defaults, the maximum deflation in monetary supply resulting is only $30,000.

But indeed, to sum up, only defaults on home credits can cause a net loss in the monetary supply.

Bam_Man's picture

The resulting decline in the money supply is equal to the amount of BANK CAPITAL destroyed by the borrower's default. Period.

The amount of bank capital destroyed by the default depends on a lot of things - primarily the percentage of the bank's mortgage principal that can be recovered through a foreclosure and re-sale of the property. 

kaiserhoff's picture

I have an idea.  Let's strap all the boats together.  Then, when one starts to sink..., oh, wait a minute.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Can't they borrow from The Royal Bank of Scotland or HSBC?

Oh....that's right.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

In my dream from a few years ago the second crash is the the much bigger crash, and it hits much, much, closer.  Specifically, it wipes out JP Morgan Chase.

CheapKUNGFU's picture

HH, obvisously you dont have dreams with unicorns that shit rainblow colored skittles - now do you?


JPM is TBTF, or werent you listening?

Cdad's picture

Now why in the world would the ECB require more capital in a full monty bull market such as this?  Assets are rising in value...are they not?

Would someone please tell me that I am awake?  Non of today's financial news items are supportive of today's price action in the markets, especially that absolutely nonsense rally in the Euro...all while the VXX slowly rises even though Goldman is selling VIX and everyone is convinced that burritos are worth $9 no matter how painful the constipation resulting from the consumption of said burrito is because "It's health food."

Now I am not a rocket scientist.  I confess that.  Neither am I professional stock broker....but my brain matter, as far as I know, is not in a state of decay from walking around looking at the wall paper on my Iphone.  I know enough to know that, in the long run [which is about 6-36 hours here in the New Amerika]...PRICE IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS and VOLUME IS THE ONLY TECHNICAL STATISTIC THAT CANNOT BE MADE TO LIE!  I feel better for yelling that last part.  My apologies.

Last I knew, in case I am still sleeping, capital raises were really bad for banks, especially those that are all f'n levered up on lies and junk paper pledged literally infinity times to each other.  Right?

So either I need some coffee and NoDoze right now, or we are about to have a kick butt rally!  Right?

Personally, I think the VXX creation units machine is out of service today...which does not bode well for perceived risk in the market later on in the session...when I hope to be more fully awake....and even more short $9 burritos and long Roto Rooter.

Hi ho...


Sophist Economicus's picture

I have your solution -- Eat more raw meat and buy the *^%&ing dip!

Jason T's picture

Insolvent.. bankrupt... disintegrate.. collapse..

I smell another American revolution required.


Back to sound money national credit system.  

knukles's picture

The ECB is going to get the capital from all the the EU/EMU member countries who are going to contribute real money to the ECB as capital to be funded from proceeds of bond issues that each member country floats in the bond markets so that the ECB can buy the bonds the member countries just sold in the bond market to raise the funds to fund the ECB to buy the bonds they just sold in case nobody else will buy the bonds they just sold.

Plus, they need the capital so that they can pass their own fucking stress tests, too.  You know, the ones that don't mark anything to market and assume an instantaneous 100% recovery rate on the 0% loss rate assumed. 

traderjoe's picture

Pretty much 'sums' it up. Sounds reasonable to me. /s

jahbless's picture

Internships Are The New Entry Level Job?

no worries you guys - CNN has solved it for us!

At 32, I was worried about getting back to work, but thankfully I can just strap on my (splashproof) Sony Walkman and bop down to the local bank for an internship.

I'm shooting for 120k pa + bennies, natch.

spank-of-america's picture

"Under U.S. law, unpaid internships must serve primarily as educational training experiences. An unpaid intern cannot replace a regular employee, and the employer cannot profit directly from the work of the intern."


Yeah, I'm sure there's none of that going on.

RobotTrader's picture

I keep looking for Eric King and Jim Rickards oft-discussed "Total systemic collapse of the economy", but so far I'm not seeing it. Instead, I'm watching BBBY getting heatmapped, within a hairsbreadth of breaking out to new 2-yr. highs.

traderjoe's picture

Silver up 3.5%, outperforming BBBY. 

DollarDive's picture

Greece and Ireland have been bailed out to the tune of almost €200 billion while many parts of Europe are straining under intense austerity programmes. Reuters quoted one of its sources as saying that it was not clear whether any new money would come from the central banks or from government.


.... If it doesn't come from governments - through either savings or printing then where does it come from ? .....Thin air ? 

DollarDive's picture

Sell bonds to raise money to buy bonds to sell bonds to buy bonds to sell bonds to buy bonds to sell bonds to buy bonds to sell bonds to buy bonds........

Cleanclog's picture

How long before the US Treasury contributes to the ECB so they don't have to ask as much from the banks in a capital raise?  After all, banks come before citizens.  New world order.

francismarion's picture

According to a teutonic friend of mine with his ear to the ground that I talk to every day, Germany thinks the euro is a good idea but not at any price.

Biggus Dickus Jr.'s picture

The price of breakup is catastrophically high. Does anyone have an idea how Germany could do it without collapse?

Biggus Dickus Jr.'s picture

So the die is cast. Print away bitchez. Last senior central bank with a shred of credibility wins the world. it looks like the dollar and its natural hedge gold will rule the world for our generation at least.

TexDenim's picture

Well, to the extent the European banks are demonstrably undercapitalized, how could this be a bad idea?

Josephine29's picture

This situation of in effect the credit rating of the European Central Bank has been raised by those who analyse its position for some time. Only last week I read this on the subject of its Securities Markets Programme.

As the SMP buys ever more bonds that one day will need some form of restructuring or even default then the balance sheet of Europe’s central bank looks ever riskier to me and it is quite conceivable that we could be in an era where central banks as well as private-sector banks need bailing out. In a strategic sense the ECB is in a hole and it is digging rather than trying to get out of it.

M.B. Drapier's picture

Ah yes, the overblown pawn shop. For the benefit of mugs like me following along on our fingers at home, though, can someone explain where the result of €5.8bn of capital on €1.924tn of assets comes from? The latest consolidated Eurosystem balance sheet - according to Buiter, the balance that really matters - gives €78.2bn capital on €1.924tn assets (24.7x leverage). The ECB proper's subscribed capital is €5.8bn (and as of the 2009 annual report it only actually had €4.1bn of that, plus a couple of bn in profits), but as of the 2009 report its assets were just €138bn (giving 21.5x leverage).

Of course, that would be the case in an ideal world where data actually mattered, and capital deficiencies could not be plugged up by just printing some more worthless linen.

Unlike the Fed, though, there will be a big fight before the ECB actually gets to print away significant losses. Raising significant capital - say tens of billions - to cover losses would also spark a huge fight. Come to think of it, even using national CB assets that appear on the consolidated balance sheet to cover big losses at the central ECB might create some controversy. (Of course the ECB has managed to turn this weakness into strength.)