On 24 November the European Banking Authority published its Risk Assessment Report on EU banks, along with an associated transparency exercise. The mostly dry analysis contained a statistic that prompted a flurry of headlines from financial news outlets.
“European banks slash UK-related assets by €350bn after Brexit vote” wrote the Financial Times, while Bloomberg said, “Brexit Spurs European Banks to Trim Exposure to U.K. Assets”.
The EBA data that sparked these headlines was a before-and-after Brexit comparison of EU bank exposure to the UK. In June 2016, the data showed the total asset exposure of these banks to UK counterparties stood at €1.935 trillion, which had dropped to €1.585 trillion a year later – a €350bn decline.
So did the EU banks really cut back UK exposure in the way implied by the FT and Bloomberg?