And You Thought the Real Estate Bust Was Over

by John Rubino on November 7, 2011

This week all eyes are on Greece and Italy, which is reasonable since they’re likely to be pretty entertaining. But as incredible as it sounds, PIIGS country sovereign debt might not even be the biggest banking-system threat on the immediate horizon. It turns out that the largest European banks have held onto — and apparently failed to mark down — a mountain of crappy paper from the housing bubble:

Old Debts Dog Europe’s Banks

European banks are sitting on heaps of exotic mortgage products and other risky assets that predate the financial crisis, adding to pressure on lenders that also are holding large quantities of euro-zone government debt.

Four years after instruments like “collateralized debt obligations” and “leveraged loans” became dirty words because of the massive losses they inflicted on holders, European banks still own tens of billions of euros of such assets. They also have sizable portfolios of U.S. commercial real-estate loans and subprime mortgages that could remain under pressure until the global economy recovers.

While the assets largely originated in the U.S. financial system, top American banks have moved faster than their European counterparts to rid themselves of the majority of such detritus.

Sixteen top European banks are holding a total of about €386 billion ($532 billion) of potentially suspect credit-market and real-estate assets, according to a recent report by Credit Suisse analysts. That’s more than the €339 billion of Greek, Irish, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish government debt that those same banks were holding at the end of last year, according to European “stress test” data.

Click below to read the rest of the article:

via And You Thought the Real Estate Bust Was Over — DollarCollapse.com.

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