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Artur Eresko → Banks are stuffed up with money

Artur Eresko → Banks are stuffed up with money

The amount of deposits on accounts with Latvian banks continued to grow. However, an urgent problem remains: where to place them. Neither enterprises nor households are in a hurry for loans.


 

This is not to say that new loans are not issued. However, they are still insufficient to compensate for the repaid loans.
In the household sector, such obstacles remain as not very high incomes of a significant part of Latvians as well as credit liabilities undertaken even yet in the “fat” years.

In the enterprise sector, the negative factor is a prolonged waiting for opening of a new period of EU funds planning.
Besides, an appreciable share of the gray zone in economy, which prevents the both groups of potential borrowers from applying for loans. As a result, their share in the structure of assets in the banking sector of Latvia is reducing.
As a result of the above factors, the credit portfolio of the banking sector within a year remained practically unchanged, having only increased by 0.1% from late 2014 to the end of 2015.
The positive result for 12 months was achieved thanks largely to the non-resident loan segment. This portfolio put on weight by 9.9%. However, a significant contribution to this figure was made

by fluctuations of euro/dollar exchange rate rather than the activity of banks and their clients.
The portfolio of loans granted to residents demonstrated a more predictable behaviour, steadily decreasing from quarter to quarter. Balance of loans issued to Latvia’s national economy has decreased over the year by 0.3%.
Among major industries, the biggest reduction of credit portfolio was observed in construction (-4.6%), wholesale and retail trade (-4.5%), real estate operations (-3.4%).
In the household sector, the loans balance continued to decline steadily. During the year, it decreased by 4.2%. Housing loans programme with the state guarantee for families with children was not able to change the overall trend, though without it the situation would be even sadder.
And what about bank deposits? Despite zero or practically zero interest rates on deposits, Latvian banks continue to wallow in resources. The balance on deposits for the year increased by 4.8% - up to 23.256 billion euros. Growth in the segment of households and private non-financial enterprises (residents) was 6.4% and 10.3%, respectively. In total, 10.838 billion euros were attracted in the resident segment, or 46.6% of total deposit amount in Latvian banking sector.

The amount of funds raised from non-residents is strongly dependent on fluctuations of euro/dollar exchange rate since the lion’s share of international clients’ deposits in Latvian banks are denominated in dollars. Thus in December, the weakening of US currency entailed a reduction in the book value of funds raised in this segment. But in general, the currency factor effect was positive for the year.
At the end of December 2015, the balance of non-resident deposits in Latvian banking sector amounted to 12.417 billion euros, having increased for 12 months by 8.3%. In general, the nonresident share (53%) is made up by the funds of clients from the European Economic Area (18%), CIS (9.2%) and other countries (26.2%).

 

Artur Eresko (Артур Ересько) - Candidate of Economic and Legal Sciences.

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    If for European policy the year 2017 promises to be complicated (elections, Brexit, unpredictable relationship with new government of the USA, trade wars with Russia), while in the economic aspect the new year promises to be quite not bad. At least, for the eurozone countries.


     

    The past year was distinguished by controversial signals concerning the economic growth in the eurozone, however, in general, as a result, positive news prevailed. The eurozone in 2016 demonstrated its soundness under the influence of internal and external shocks.

    Despite strong tension in the market in January and February of the past year, Brexit and continuing weakening of the global market, trust of business and of consumers in the eurozone remained amazingly stable. GDP, according to a tentative forecast, grew in 2016 by substantive 1.6%. So, the past year became the second year of a visible growth of the zone of Euro.

    Today we can presume that the moderate rates of recovery of the economy of the currency block shall preserve also in 2017 – GDP of the region shall grow yet by 1.5 %, at the least.

    The key risk factor for the European economics this year is the policy. Europe this year will again encounter a clear-cut political uncertainty, which might affect determination to invest.

    This is about elections scheduled in Europe to 2017: in the Netherlands, in France, in Germany and, probably, in Italy. After the populist surprises in Great Britain and in the USA a similar result in Germany cannot be ruled out.

    Anyway, in Germany the parliamentary elections ought to take place this year, which will result in the election of the chancellor of the country. France will elect its president, in the Netherlands — parliamentary elections. In Italy the situation is different: resigned at the end of the last year from the post of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi did not exclude in the middle of December that early parliamentary election might take place in June 2017.

    Nevertheless, so far we can forecast the growth of investments in the eurozone this year by 2.5%. This is, however, slightly less than 3%, achieved in 2015 and in 2016.

    While inflation in the eurozone is forecasted at the level of 1.5-1.8 per cent.

    The eurozone has lived for several years under the low inflation condition, even the risk of deflation was emerging, which threatened the process of recovery of economics of the region. This year would considerably weaken or even remove the low inflation risk.

    Here it is important to mention that in December last year inflation in the eurozone already jumped by half a percentage point – to 1.1%, which practically was completely caused by oil price hikes. There are not yet any signals of a new fall in price of a barrel, and there is no reason to be worried of a stop of rise in consumer prices in the eurozone countries.

     

    Artur Eresko (Артур Ересько), candidate of Economic and Legal Sciences.

  • Artur Eresko → Foreign trade: the deficit shrank to the minimum

    The jerk of woodworking industry in September failed to compensate hard landing of export of oil and grain crops. In general, export of Latvian goods in September as compared to the same month of the previous year declined by 2.7%. Over nine months of this year the fall in export of goods made up 1.6% as compared to nine months of 2015.


     

    If to consider in annual terms, then the largest share of contribution to September fall is attributable to re-export. Exactly the fact that the volumes of export of minerals (oil and petroleum products) continued falling (-33.1% in September). This partially can be explained by recent official message on gradual termination of export of Russian petroleum products through Baltic ports. Based on sentiment prevailing in Russian state-owned enterprise Transneft, as well as determination of the Russian party to load, first and foremost, its ports at Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, most probably, no positive trends in this industry are forthcoming either.

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    Apart from oil and grain crops, the decline in export was also marked in such segments as mechanisms and equipment (-8.2%) and metal ware (-6.3%).

    In its turn, woodworking keeps on delighting, where the annual growth of export achieved 10.1% (inter alia, the gain in export to Great Britain made up 26%).

    Fears associated with Brexit doubled the energy of Latvian exporters of wood and wood products, who are hurrying to sell as much as possible before exit of Great Britain from the EU. But the date of this monumental for Europe event becomes more and more uncertain. So, the Supreme Court of Great Britain took a decision that the government may not start the Brexit procedure without approval by the Parliament. What would eventually decide the servants of British people is unknown. Anyway, it means postponing of the moment of kiss off, which is positive news for Latvian exporters.

    Moreover, the general growth was facilitated by export of furniture (30.9%) and chemical products (7.6%).

    Nevertheless, the deficit of foreign trade of Latvia in September shrank to the lowest over the recent year level. In September the deficit of foreign trade in goods made up 87.1 million euro and this is the lowest index since 2010.

     

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  • Artur Eresko → Construction projects are waiting for a signal from Brussels

    Latvian statisticians have calculated the number of houses, workshops and roads that have not been built.


     

    Last year, in comparison with 2015, the volumes of construction products in comparable prices for calendar-aligned data decreased by 17.8%. In absolute terms, the fall was 318 million EUR.

    Overall decline does not look so terrible when looking at construction of engineering facilities in 2016 where 33.3% collapse was recorded.

    In 2016, the decline was noted in almost all areas of engineering construction, including ports, waterways, dams and other hydraulic structures - by 31.3%; bridges, overpasses and tunnels - by 29.9%, motorways, streets, roads, runways and railways - by 29.5%.

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    Thus, development of construction industry is hampered by low utilization of EU structural funds. Although for 2016 a decline in cash flow from the EU coffers was predicted, at the beginning of the year it was impossible to foresee that the financial flow would become so low and, as a consequence, would affect so much the volumes of construction. As a result, the current drop in construction is comparable to the fall in output in the 2008-2010 crisis.

    Question of future growth of the construction industry should be put not to Latvian builders but to Brussels bureaucrats who have demonstrated their unpredictability in transferring European subsidies to poor EU countries.

    At present, European financing is expected to be received in the second half of 2017. Then new construction sites will appear in Latvia.

    It can be also predicted when these construction projects will begin to close again. In 2020, European financial assistance will be sharply reduced. It can be said for sure. But it is, unfortunately, impossible to assert that by this time also private and public investments in the construction sector will grow sharply.

     

    Artur Eresko (Артур Ересько), candidate of Economic and Legal Sciences.