The eurozone crisis will not go away. More than nine out of 10 risk managers at financial firms asked about the greatest threat to the financial system cite sovereign risk. In the second half of 2012, it was the biggest concern of 94% of those asked by the Bank of England, while 77% were most worried about the risk of the economic downturn.
"Sovereign risk is now cited by a greater proportion of respondents than previously recorded for any risk," the bank's systemic risk survey found.
Yet, while the prospect of a eurozone meltdown is uppermost in bankers' minds, the overall concern about a "high impact" event is falling dramatically.
Some 20% still feel the probability of such an event is high or very high but this is a 16 percentage point fall in the last six months while 34% now believe such an event is a low probability, a rise of 11 percentage points.
The key here appears to related to whether asked about their concerns for the "short term" or the "medium term". In the medium term, 41% of respondents considered a "very high or high" probability of such an high impact event occurring. It is a statistic that cannot be ignored.
Other all, though, confidence in the financial system has returned to levels of the first half of 2011. Just 16% of respondents were "completely confident or very confident" in the stability of the UK financial system over the next three years. But, confidence is creeping up. For the whole of 2008, 2009 and 2010 no one said they had "complete confidence" in the system. Some 3% are now saying they have "complete confidence" – the highest recorded since the survey began during the 2008 banking crisis.
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