Patuelli (Abi): "The extra profits of the banks do not exist, those who took out a variable rate mortgage a year ago have a risky calculation"

Patuelli (Abi): "The extra profits of the banks do not exist, those who took out a variable rate mortgage a year ago have a risky calculation"

The extra profits of the banks? "They don't exist, otherwise we would also have to talk about the extra losses accumulated by the banks in the years of zero interest rates". The leap in mortgage payments? "It concerns only 37% of variable-rate mortgages and those who chose this option a year ago made a risky calculation." The decisions of the European Central Bank? "Lagarde started late in the fight against inflation, but I especially criticize the ECB for excessive communication: it would be better to stick to a three-line press release, as the Bank of Italy did". It is an all-out defense of the Italian credit industry that gutted by the president of the Italian banking association (Abi), Antonio Patuelli, interviewed by the director of La Stampa, Massimo Giannini, on the occasion of the "Awards ceremony for excellence in the banking sector ” held in the setting of Palazzo Madama in Turin.

According to Patuelli, the sudden increase in the cost of money decided by the ECB is necessary to slow down the race in prices, but it is not sufficient. Monetary policy should be accompanied by the action of governments, called to reduce public spending and debt, both of which exploded during the pandemic. For Italy, in particular, the president of the ABI suggests setting a debt ceiling in order to obtain greater confidence from the markets. At the ECB, however, Patuelli contests the flood of declarations that invariably follows every decision on rate hikes and budget reductions. “When Bankitalia was responsible for setting the discount rate, it limited itself to a three-line press release; today a press conference is held every time which ends up confusing and increasing uncertainty about future moves ”, he said without hiding that he regrets the era in which Mario Draghi was in charge in Frankfurt.

Despite the seven hikes, however, interest rates in the eurozone are still among the lowest in the world and at a level considered "normal" by Patuelli compared to the exceptional long era of negative rates. «63% of mortgages in Italy are at a fixed rate and therefore continue to pay the same installment - he added -, for 37% of variable rate debtors it is necessary to distinguish: those who took out the mortgage 15 years ago, took advantage of years of low interest; those who contracted it a year ago made a mistake in the calculations but still have the possibility of switching to the fixed rate ».

In the meantime, however, thanks to the jump in interest rates, the leading European banks have made profits of 56 billion in three months. The large Italian institutions have registered 5.8 billion, with a threefold increase compared to 2022 which has given rise to hypotheses of a tax on extra profits. "The banks already pay a surtax on IRES which brings their rate to 27.5%," recalled Patuelli. "The notion of extra profits does not exist in legal literature and, if one wanted to create the neologism, one would also have to admit its opposite, i.e. extra losses", he concluded, "in recent years several Italian banks have had to resort to capital increases always subscribed by private capital".

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