Cross-border lending on the mend in the euro zone

By Reuters

Feb 07, 2015 08:28 AM EST

Cross-border lending is growing in the euro zone for the first time since the bloc's financial crisis prompted banks to retreat from highly indebted countries such as Spain, Greece, Ireland and Italy.

Cross-border bank credit grew by 1 percent in the year ended September in the euro area, the first increase since the last quarter of 2008, according to statistics released on Saturday by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

The overall increase masks big differences on a country by country basis with cross-border loans to France and Italy growing by 9 percent and 4 percent respectively while cross-border lending to Spain and Germany contracted by almost 6 percent and 4 percent.

The so-called "balkanization" of the euro zone banking system in the wake of the region's debt crisis has exacerbated problems in southern Europe, leaving businesses starved of credit and making governments increasingly reliant on their own banks to buy their bonds.

Globally, bank lending is growing with credit in U.S. dollars to non-bank borrowers outside the United States rising by over 9 percent to $9.2 trillion at the end of September from a year earlier and by over 50 percent since the end of 2009.

For China, cross-border credit surged by nearly 37 percent. Credit financed by cross-border loans to Chinese banks has been growing rapidly in recent years, according to the BIS data.

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