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How stressful was it?

Gavin Hewitt | 19:20 UK time, Friday, 23 July 2010

So how stressful was it?

Seven banks failing the stress test was fewer than many had expected. Some thought the figure would be closer to 10 or 12.

As expected, the heart of the problem lies with Spain's regional savings banks, which were so badly damaged by the collapse in the property market. The five that failed in Spain are deemed too weak to survive another financial shock. They are all in the process of being consolidated.

The cost of shoring up these failed banks is put at 3.5bn euros (£2.9bn; $4.5bn). Analysts had predicted at least 40bn euros would be needed.

So the relief at the outcome is combined with scepticism. "I see nothing stressful about this test," said Stephen Pope of Cantor Fitzgerald. Others felt the tests did not factor in sufficiently the risk from a sovereign debt crisis.

However, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said "in my view the test was tough, it was inclusive and it was very competitive".

Over the weekend and before the markets re-open, there will be further analysis of these results. There may still be uncertainty in early trading next week.

It is still too early to declare Europe's banking system sound enough to survive further shocks to the European economy, but a significant hurdle was passed today.


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