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One Month After Austria's Black Swan Shocker, The ECB Quietly Asks Banks to "Detail Their Exposure"

Nearly a month after the Hype Alpe Adria bad bank Heta Asset Resolution "unexpectedly" imploded under a house of non-GAAP and misreported cards, and which led to only the second European creditor bail-in after Cyprus in what until then was considered the safest European nation, unleashing a herd of black swans which will result in not only the insolvency of one of Austria's provinces, Carinthia, but a week ago led to its first foreign casualty, German Duesseldorfer Hypothekenbank AG which had to be bailed out by the German FDIC-equivalent, the ECB has finally realized it may have a major problem at hand.

So, doing what it does best, a month after the fact and long after the black swans have left the stable so to speak, Mario Draghi's ECB has asked Eurozone banks "to detail their exposure to Austria and provisions they plan to make after the country halted debt repayments by a "bad bank" winding down defunct lender Hypo Alpe Adria," financial sources told Reuters.

From Reuters:

The questionnaire sent to banks and a video conference to discuss the potential fallout underscore the sensitivity of Austria's path-breaking move to invoke new European rules on ensuring creditors, not just taxpayers, fund bailouts.


"They are taking this seriously," one senior executive said of the ECB on the condition he not be identified. The ECB declined to comment.


Bankers say Austria's credibility is on the line after the second move in two years to impose losses on creditors of Hypo, many of whom assumed they had iron-clad backing from the state.

Odd how these things happen: first EURCHF longs "assumed" iron-clad backing from the SNB... until it was yanked from under their feet. Then, creditors in what many saw as the safest European nation "assumed" they would never suffer losses and would be bailed out for ever... until they saw 50% losses in a matter of minutes.

And if you can't trust an Aaa/AA+ rated country, just who can you trust? One can see why the confidence in a system in which risk until recently was illegal, is starting to crack.

For now, however, one can still keep kicking the can, as the creditor losses haven't been fully digested yet.

The debt moratorium gives the FMA time to work out a plan that ensures equal treatment of creditors. It has given no details on what size "haircut" bondholders might expect and has not ruled out sending Heta into insolvency.


The moratorium on more than 11 billion euros in Heta debt has sent shock waves beyond Austria.


Germany's Bundesbank central bank said German banks have around 5.5 billion euros in Heta exposure. Germany's deposit protection fund had to take over property lender Duesseldorfer Hypothekenbank AG after it ran aground over Heta exposure.


The Heta move comes after Austria entered uncharted waters for debt markets last year by wiping out via a special law holders of nearly 900 million euros worth of Hypo subordinated debt despite guarantees from its home province of Carinthia. That triggered lawsuits that the country's Constitutional Court is set to rule on by October.


Some creditors have said they are looking into taking legal steps over the Heta decision, and the FMA is preparing itself for legal action against its decisions.

And hell hath no fury like a bondholder who assumed par recovery is 100% assured, scorned.

Our only question now is that as the flock of Austrian black swans gets tired and prepares to land, just which "assumed" safe financial institution is about to lead to even more creditor scorn.