Not a good day to be a European bank

Bank jogs continue merrily along.

Today is not a good day to be a European bank. You may think the chance of a Greek exit would have been priced in to the markets by now, but each release of bad news brings a new hit to prices.

The worst affected is the Spanish bank Bankia, which was part nationalised last week. Reuters today reports that over €1bn has been withdrawn from the bank since the nationalisation, raising fears of a run - or jog, at least - on the bank. The news sent the bank down 12 per cent in 20 minutes, and although that has largely recovered, shares are still 11 per cent down on where they opened, hovering around €1.50. When the bank was listed in July, it was €3.75.

Bankia (BKIA). Source: Bloomberg

Other European banks are doing no better. UniCredit SpA is down 5.98 per cent, Banco Popolare 3.80 per cent, and Societe Generale 3.3 per cent.

Even things which sound European are tanking. French Connection is down 26 per cent:

French Connection (FCCN). Source: Google Finance

Oh, alright. That's actually because French Connection issued a profits warning this morning, saying:

It appears unlikely that our profit performance for the full year will meet current market expectations. . . The UK retail market remains particularly challenging and the combination of prevailing consumer caution and ongoing economic difficulties suggests that this will not improve in the second half of the year.

A man withdraws money from a Bankia cashpoint. Helping a bank jog? Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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