The ultra-low rate environment fostered by Europe’s central bank, the ECB, has made it ever more difficult for European banks to make money. The ability of banks to create profitability is primarily based on the interest rate environment, as they lend at higher rates than what they’ve borrowed at.
Some of Europe’s largest and most prominent banks are German, part of the single largest and most influential economy throughout Europe. A combination of low rates, dismal economic growth, the effects of Brexit, and recent penalties imposed by the U.S. Justice Department has levied a tremendous strain on the German and European bank sectors.
Politics are also playing a critical part in how a banking crisis might evolve or be entirely missed. The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, vowed not to use German tax funds to help bail out banks and now with a reelection on the horizon, it is almost certain that any government bail out or assistance of any type will most likely not occur. German policy makers have been known for believing that the banks in the southern regions such as Italy and Greece should not be bailed out or rescued by their native country.
Sources: ECB, Eurostat