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A year in the dark


A year on from the collapse Banco Popular, the public should have much greater transparency about the bank resolution process in Europe.

Popular's case is still the first and only example of the Single Resolution Board using its powers under the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive, which give it the scope to write down and restructure a bank’s liabilities.

So far the SRB has published a version of its resolution decision and an initial valuation report of the Spanish bank, in accordance with legal requirements on disclosure.

But the public needs to be given more information in this case and in future decisions if it is going to be able to understand how and why bank resolutions take place in Europe.

Interested parties are still waiting for the publication of a report to show whether creditors were worse off as a result of Popular’s resolution compared with any possible insolvency — the very crux of Europe’s new bank resolution regime.

Further, key parts of the documents that have been published about the case have been censored.

Arguments in favour of limiting disclosure on the basis of public interest surely rang true in the immediate aftermath of the resolution decision. 

But on the anniversary of Popular’s failure, after the market has come to terms with its exposure to a new suite of bank resolution tools, it is surely now only in the public interest to have a full picture of what happened last year.

Resolution authorities should be given leeway to make reasonable decisions and to act within their powers to take action in failing banks, even if you do not agree with their decisions.

But the only way to have an open discussion, based on trust, is to do so when in full possession of the facts.

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