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商业 - 金融

低利率侵蚀银行业利润

Stephen Gandel 2012年08月30日

统计数据显示,今年第二季度,美国银行业利润环比下降了8亿美元,而且是在放贷量大幅增长的前提下。分析认为,美联储旨在刺激美国经济增长的低利率政策意味着新发贷款的利润正在变得越来越薄,侵蚀了银行的盈利能力,银行业在低利率环境中将遭受更多痛苦。

    对于银行而言,钱越来越难赚了。

    美国联邦存款保险公司(Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 简称FDIC)周二发布的报告称,今年第二季度,美国银行业利润环比下降了8亿美元。而且,这次利润下降的背景是,同期贷款跃增了1,020亿美元,创下自金融危机以来第二大的季度增幅。

    但美国联邦储备委员会(Federal Reserve,简称Fed)推行的旨在刺激美国经济增长的低利率政策意味着新发贷款的利润正在变得越来越薄,侵蚀了银行的盈利能力。而且,这种状况短期之内可能还不会结束。美联储预计到2014年底前短期利率都将维持“异常低”的水平。但很多经济学家预计,可能很快美联储就会将低利率承诺期限延至2015年底。

    已经有一些银行感到难以维持生计。哈德森城市银行(Hudson City Bancorp)是此次金融危机期间少数实现盈利的银行之一,但迫于低利率环境,8月份它已经被卖给了竞争对手M&T Bank银行。

    不过,银行业总体仍然在逐渐从金融危机的冲击中恢复元气。美国联邦存款保险公司称,有倒闭危险的银行数量已经下降到了732家。该数字一度曾逼近1,000。另外,第二季度倒闭的银行数量下降到了15家,是3年半以来的最低值。年初以来,总计有40家银行倒闭,低于上年同期的68家。

    总体而言,第二季度银行业利润仍达345亿美元,高于去年同期的285亿美元。而且,该季的数据还包括了主要由摩根大通(JPMorgan Chase)伦敦鲸事件带来的交易收入大幅下降,伦敦鲸事件令摩根大通当季计入信用衍生品交易损失了44亿美元。假若没有这一影响,银行业整体的利润原本应该更好,虽然到底能好多少并不清楚。

    不过,美国联邦存款保险公司的官员们表示,利润同比增长的一大原因是银行减少了应对未来贷款损失的拨备计提,并非来自实际业务的改善。贷款和其他银行业务的收入增长依然停滞。

    美国联邦存款保险公司代理主席马丁•格鲁伯格说:“最多也就是这样了。利率环境正在制约银行收入增长。”

    问题是银行将如何应对。美联储主席本• 伯南克表示,他推低利率的一项主要考虑是促进放贷。但不清楚伯南克的最新计划到底能不能让银行愿意增加放贷。

    事实上,低利率造成的贷款利润下滑可能促使银行减少放贷,特别是考虑到目前银行正在努力补充金融危机中损失的资本金。另一方面,有些银行可能认为,单笔贷款赚的钱越来越少,必须大幅增加放贷以保持利润的增长。

    显然,伯南克所做的事情就如同为一个针眼极细的绣花针穿线。祝愿他能成功!

    译者:早稻米

    For banks, it's getting harder and harder to earn a buck.

    In the second quarter, U.S. bank profits fell $800 million from the first three months of the year, according a report released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Tuesday. The drop in profits came despite a significant increase in lending, which jumped $102 billion in the second three months of the year, the second largest jump in any quarter since the start of the financial crisis.

    But low-interest rates, driven by the Federal Reserve's efforts to stimulate the economy, mean that new loans are increasingly less profitable, crimping bank profits. And that's not likely to end any time soon. The Fed says it expects to keep short-term interest rates "exceptionally low" through 2014. But many economists predict the Fed will soon extend its low-interest-rate pledge through the end of 2015.

    Already some banks are finding it tough to survive. In August, low-interest rates forced Hudson City Bancorp (HCBK), one of the few banks able to turn a profit during the financial crisis, to sell out to rival M&T Bank (MTB).

    Still, the banking sector continued to heal from the financial crisis. The number of banks that the FDIC says are in jeopardy of failing dropped to 732. That list had once neared 1,000. What's more, the number of banks that failed in the quarter dropped to 15. That was the lowest failure rate in three and a half years. In all, 40 banks have failed since the beginning of 2012, down from 68 at this time a year ago.

    Overall, bank earnings were still a hefty $34.5 billion in the second quarter. That was up from $28.5 billion in the same quarter a year ago. What's more, the quarter included a huge drop in trading revenues, driven in large part by missteps by JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) so-called London Whale, which resulted in the bank taking $4.4 billion loss on credit derivatives bets in the quarter. Without that, bank profits would have been better overall, though it's not clear how much.

    Still, FDIC officials said much of the profit boost from a year ago came from banks putting less money aside for future loan losses, and not from an improvement in their actual business. Revenue growth from lending and other bank activities continues to be stalled.

    "There's only so far that can take you," says FDIC Acting Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg. "The rate environment is putting a constraint on the bank revenue growth."

    The question is how banks will respond. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says one of his main reasons for his policy to push down interest rates is to boost lending. But it's not clearBernanke's latest plan will make banks want to lend more.

    Instead, falling profits, driven by low-interest rates, could cause banks to lend less, particularly at a time when they are still trying to build back the capital they lost during the financial crisis. On the other hand, some banks may decide they have to dramatically boost lending in order to keep up profit growth at a time when they are making less and less on each individual loan.

    What's clear is that Bernanke is trying to thread an incredible small needle head. Let's hope he gets it right.

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