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Banks are being rocked again as real estate losses mount

·1 min

Nearly a year after a banking crisis that caused the collapse of three US regional lenders and the emergency takeover of Credit Suisse in Europe, banks in New York, Tokyo, and Zurich are facing new challenges. Mounting losses on lending to the troubled commercial property sector are a common concern. New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) reported a loss of $252 million for the last quarter, leading to a 38% drop in its shares. Other regional banks also experienced sharp losses. The pandemic-induced remote working trend has caused office space vacancies, making it difficult for real estate developers to repay loans. Japan’s Aozora Bank announced a projected annual loss of ¥28 billion due to bad loans tied to US offices, and Swiss private bank Julius Baer reported a 55% decrease in adjusted profit last year, largely due to losses on loans made to a single European conglomerate. Deutsche Bank allocated €123 million to absorb potential defaults on its US commercial real estate loans, quadruple the amount set aside in the same period last year. Although recent turbulence is not expected to impact large, well-capitalized banks, experts warn against complacency and note the possibility of limited contagion in smaller banks.