Scotland is making a move for independence from the UK as a sovereign nation. Such an event is bound to be rife with political motivations and ramifications that I'm no where near qualified to gauge or judge. Yet, there is one thing that I can comment on with conviction, and that is the risks that abound in the banking system. You see, with so many political motivations running in several directions, the truth (or even a facsimile of it) will be hard to come by in such a situation, but I believe I can ferret out a nugget or two. Here are a few snippets from an article ran on CNBC.com today: Scotland Independence Could Lead to Cyprus-Style Banking Crisis
An independent Scotland is at risk of a Cyprus-style banking crisis, as its banking sector would be "exceptionally large" compared to the size of its economy, a U.K. government report has said.
"An independent Scotland would have an exceptionally large banking sector compared to the size of its economy - with banking assets of more than 1250 percent of Scottish [gross domestic product] - making it more vulnerable to financial shocks and the volatility of the sector," the Treasury report said on Monday.
The report pointed out Scotland's banking exposure would dwarf that of Iceland and Cyprus, two countries that faced severe banking collapses in recent years. Iceland's banks, for example, had assets equivalent to 880 per cent of GDP, while Cyprus, which faced a banking crisis in March, had total banking assets of around 700 per cent of GDP.
...for Scotland if its banks needed bailing out, posing significant risks to Scottish taxpayers, the report claimed.
The report as cited by the article then goes on to make more direct comparisons to Cyprus, not unlike I did two months ago, but with Ireland (see As Forewarned, The Irish Savers Have Just Been "Cyprus'd", And There's MUCH MORE "Cyprusing" To Come).
"At the end of September 2012, the two largest banks – the Cyprus Popular Bank and Bank of Cyprus – had assets in the region of 210 per cent and 175 per cent of Cyprus's GDP respectively."
"It is worth noting that, if Scotland became independent, its banking sector would be similarly concentrated (with two large players, Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland and a number of smaller firms), and that an independent Scotland's domestic banking sector would be likely to be significantly larger than that of Cyprus (assuming no change to firms' domicile arrangements)."
While there's not a single doubt in my mind that this so-called research paper has distinct political ulterior motives at it heart, a fact is still a fact nonetheless. RBS is still a problem in terms of systemic risk. On Thursday, 11 April 2013 I penned, I Illustrate How The Irish Banking Cancer Spreads To The UK Taxpayer And Metastasizes Through US Markets! wherein I clearly illustrated that RBS is materially understating its liabilities AND even went so far as to include links to the SEC and the UK banking regulator so that US/UK taxpayers and investors can notify our erstwhile regulator(s) to the potential of financial shenanigans. The root of the problem is that RBS has materially under-reported its liabilities (in my oh so humble opinion.) Those that stress tested RBS (the same erstwhile professionals that allowed the Irish banks to pass their stress tests 3 months before they started collapsing) apparently overlooked humongous swaths of liabilities. The charge documents referred to in the aforelinked article are definitively not apparent in the recent bank stress testing’ conducted by the European Banking Authority, at least not in the summary results that the EBA have made available. For those who are still skeptical, I beg thee reference the RBS Stress Test download. I presented ample evidence directly in my previous articles, to wit:
What happened behind closed doors?
Ulster Bank gave a first floating charge in favor of the Central Bank of Ireland (an arm of the European Central Bank) and the Financial Services Authority of Ireland. U.S. investors would have had to rely on the contents of The Royal Bank of Scotland's 2008 Annual Accounts which apparently (in my opinion) concealed the existence of the CRO registered charges to the Central Bank of Ireland.
I even included a lawsuit filed in which investors apparently go the message, they just didn't have access to the analyst that I proffered...
Anyone interested in RBS will be well served to review "I Illustrate How The Irish Banking Cancer Spreads To The UK Taxpayer And Metastasizes Through US Markets!" thoroughly!
To give the prospective Scottish taxpayer a clue as to what surprises may lurk beneath, I post this tidbit from the afore-linked article...
The app below allows the UK Taxpayer to calculate for themselves exactly what their individual contribution (pro rata) is to the government bailout of RBS.
I've taken the liberty of pre-populating the input fields for you, but if you don't agree with the numbers then by all means insert your own!