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Friday, August 6, 2010

U.S. Banks' Exposure to Risky Countries

I've heard quite a bit of talk about contagion from some of the more toxic countries in the world and I think it is helpful to actually quantify what we are talking about. I made this table based on data from the Federal Reserve on bank exposure by country:

As you can see, most of the high risk countries do not pose particularly mortal threats to the banking system. This is certainly true when you compare them to the size of the commercial and residential real estate portfolios that they had as of Q1 2008. The spill-over countries are a different story, with the UK being the most problematic if there suddenly was a complete collapse of the European financial system. However, that event looks increasingly unlikely. By the way, I included Australia and China due to their large and out of control real estate bubbles.

As such, I don't fear the risk of a sudden financial shock as much as I do the slow grind of deflation. With 10-year treasuries well below 3.0% now, I think the market is indicating the same.

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