(Zero Hedge) Back in the summer of 2011, when we reported that Canadian banks appear dangerously undercapitalized on a tangible common equity basis….. the highest Canadian media instance, the Globe and Mail decided to take us to task. To wit: Were the folks at Zerohedge.com looking at the best numbers when they argued that Canadian banks were just as levered as troubled European banks? In a simple analysis that generated a great deal of commentary, a blogger at Zerohedge.com, an oddball but widely followed financial site, suggested that Canadian banks were as leveraged as European banks because they have low ratios of tangible common equity to total assets.
But there’s an argument that looking at that ratio is the wrong way to judge a bank’s strength because it ignores the composition of the assets. Sadly, the folks at Zerohedge.com were looking at the best numbers, and even more sadly, in the interim nearly 5 years, Canada’s banks took absolutely no action to bolster their capital ratios; in fact, these have only deteriorated.
The Globe and Mail, however, was right about one thing: the TC ratio did not capture the full risk embedded in Canadian bank balance sheets: it was merely a shorthand as to how much capital said banks have in case of a rainy day. Sadly for Canada, it’s not only raining, it’s pouring for the country’s energy industry, a downpour which is about to migrate into its banking sector. Which is why it is indeed time to take a somewhat deeper dive into the Canadian banks’ balance sheets, where we find something very troubling. FULL REPORT