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The broad-based upturn in economic growth and improved solvency will underpin bank creditworthiness in the coming year, says Moody's Investors Service in a new report.
"The global banking sector will benefit from favorable credit conditions that include improving economic growth and a supportive funding environment," said Robard Williams, a Senior Vice President at Moody's. "However, broadly stronger economic growth is not expected to translate into material improvements in bank profitability in the coming year."
Bank profitability remains subdued across regions as the low rate environment continues to weigh on returns, and nonperforming loan levels remain stubbornly high in some jurisdictions.
At the same time, efforts to reduce costs will be constrained by a number of issues, including technology investments, ongoing restructuring, and regulatory compliance.
"The imperative for banks to boost customer acquisition and retention and improve efficiency through new and improved uses of technology will continue" said Williams. "While we do not expect incumbents to lose their position at the center of banking services any time soon, 2018 will bring ongoing challenges to their competitive position."
Banks also face downside risks from relatively high corporate and household indebtedness as monetary policy in developed markets gradually tightens over the next few years, making borrowers' creditworthiness more vulnerable to a slowdown in growth or an interest rate shock.
"An additional vulnerability would be a significant correction in currently-elevated asset prices, which would weigh on consumer sentiment and spending, worsen financial conditions for affected firms and push up losses on corporate and consumer loans," said Williams.
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