The recent appreciation in financials is apparently a response to the new administration’s planned policies that are generally viewed as beneficial for the financial sector. Given the regulatory oppression of the past eight years, this may very well be a sound reason to own bank stocks. However, the R2K index is trading at grossly elevated levels. Owning the index for anything other than pure speculative trading is ridiculous. Owning the index for its bank exposure is insane.
The largest U.S. banks got permission from regulators to return profits to investors, but the U.S. banking units of Deutsche Bank and Banco Santander were held back again as the Federal Reserve released the final results of its 2016 "stress tests."
It's not just the shale drillers who are in danger as they see their liquidity evaporate. As the WSJ writes today, and as covered here since January, it is the lenders themselves whose unfunded revolver exposure may suddenly become funded and expose them to even greater risks from the energy sector should oil not rebound far more forcefully and put US oil and gas companies back in the black. How big is the exposure? Very big: $147 billion.