This is incredible. Even in the midst of a crisis, these banks were paying out dividends that EXCEEDED retained earnings!

Euro-area banks weakened their capital bases by paying substantial dividends throughout the crisis years, especially in France, Spain and Italy, where payouts since 2007 have exceeded the level of retained earnings, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

Those funds could have helped boost lending to the real economy instead, according to the text of a speech in Frankfurt Thursday by Hyun Song Shin, head of research at the Basel-based “central bank for central banks.” Higher capital ratios reduce banks’ funding costs and increase the money they lend, a study presented by Shin in Frankfurt argues.

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