Portugal’s Domestic Banks Tap ECB For Record Amounts Of Funding
The reliance of eurozone banks on the European Central Bank was demonstrated on Monday when Portugal revealed that its domestic banks were tapping the central bank for record amounts of funding.
The Bank of Portugal said the use by domestic banks for the various facilities available from the ECB rose to €56.3bn in March – up from €47.5bn in February and greater than the previous record level of €49.1bn in August 2010.
Bailed out by the EU and International Monetary Fund in April 2011 for €78bn, Portugal has €12bn earmarked for bolstering its banks’ capital positions if necessary in the months ahead.
The plight of Portugal’s banks was revealed following the cash injection by the ECB in February when the central bank lent €529bn to 800 banks across the eurozone through its long-term refinancing operation (LTRO).
Portuguese banks were among those frozen out from the wholesale funding markets – where banks borrow from each other or professional investors – during the height of the eurozone crisis and as a result are among a number in the eurozone that utilise ECB funding.
“I think it’s natural and reasonable for banks to have taken advantage of these funds under the circumstances, especially after the ECB relaxed some collateral requirements before February’s injection,” Teresa Gil Pinheiro, chief economist at Banco BPI in Lisbon, told Reuters.
“The LTRO injection was in late February so it’s natural that it is registered in March,” she said.
The Portuguese continued reliance on ECB funding comes amid fresh concerns in the eurozone about the price at which the governments of Spain and Italy can borrow on the markets.
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