European banks: Stress relief

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The revolution is over

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European banks


Europe’s banks are in decent shape—but that is not enough to repair its economy

FIVE years ago this month, the discovery of a black hole in Greece’s public finances marked the start of the euro-zone crisis. Policymakers have scrambled to contain it ever since. The outcome of their latest ploy, a probe of the continent’s banks intended to demonstrate their solidity, was revealed on October 26th. Results were mostly encouraging, at least outside Italy. But more will be needed to prod Europe’s economy back to growth.
Run over several months and involving 6,000 staff, the “stress tests” were certainly more diligent than Europe’s past attempts, which on several occasions resulted in banks faltering soon after they were pronounced healthy. Much of the work was overseen by the European Central Bank (ECB), which is taking over regulation of the euro zone’s biggest lenders next week.

Probing the books of the 130-odd banks involved unearthed minor flaws rather than the …

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