World Bulletin / News Desk
Britain's banks have been told to test how they would cope if several euro zone countries exited the single currency, the UK's Financial Services Authority watchdog said on Tuesday.
FSA Chairman Adair Turner said Britain's banks needed to think about problems arising from their assets and liabilities being redenominated into another currency, even though the likelihood of this happening was still small.
"We've certainly encouraged them to run those scenarios for Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland," Turner told parliament's Treasury Select Committee.
"I think we consider the chances very low, very very low for at least some of those countries on that list, but I think it is sensible to encourage people to run extreme risk scenarios," Turner added.
The committee was questioning Turner and Bank of England (BoE) officials who are members of the BoE's Financial Policy Committee which looks at risk affecting financial stability.
The FPC's meeting in June concluded that the euro zone debt crisis was the biggest challenge facing the UK economy, which is back in recession.
The committee agreed to help banks kick start the economy by tapping billions of pounds from their cash buffers and using the freed up money to increase lending to businesses.
The extent to which banks can cut their liquidity buffers -- mainly made up of government bonds -- will depend on how much lenders have in collateral parked at the Bank of England.
"We are working through the details on that," Turner said, adding the FSA will soon hold meetings with each bank over how much they can tap their cash buffers.
"Within a few weeks we will have sorted this out," Turner said.
The FPC is still putting pressure on banks to build up their separate capital cushions by retaining earnings, and curbing bonuses and dividends, Turner said.
"Our banks are in a much stronger position than they were three or four years ago," Turner said.
The FSA was discussing with some banks the possibility of issuing contingent capital or CoCos, a hybrid debt that converts to equity when a bank becomes stressed, Turner added.
The move was cheered by the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions and Federation of Free Trade Unions
With overnight temperatures already nudging below freezing in Ukraine, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hailed an accord clinched in Brussels
Xinhua said China has sent 20 teams to Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and other neighbouring countries, arresting 75 suspects.
Supporters say law will return country to energy self-sufficiency; critics say it is too lenient on companies.
The toll is expected to be introduced in 2016. Motorists have to pay it by registering their license plates via the internet. Foreigners can also pay the levy at gas stations
Moscow's Arbitration Court ruled in favour of prosecutors who said Bashneft was unlawfully sold to local authorities in the early 2000s before being sold in 2009 to oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema
Waste oil from Chinese dinner tables to power airplanes by converting into aviation biofuel
The World Bank announced Singapore had been ranked the best country to do business in for a ninth consecutive year
LPG "certainly provides lower carbon dioxide per unit of energy than diesel and petrol when used in vehicles" expert claims
52 countries and regions including Germany, UK and South Africa agree to exchange financial information
OPEC members have previously said they wanted oil at around $100 a barrel
World stocks rose on Wednesday, lifted by strong corporate earnings and investor optimism that the U.S. Federal Reserve won't raise interest rates for some time, even as it is expected to officially wind down its bond-buying stimulus programme
London-based solar plant developer aims to bring solar power generated in Tunisia to Europe as electricity in 2018.
All 48 of the country's nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline following Fukushima, the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
British PM said the bill made it harder to make the case to keep Britain in the European Union before a membership referendum he has promised in 2017 if he is re-elected next year.
Some 25 European banks failed a health check of whether they could withstand a recession, and another 11 would have failed if the full Basel III rules had been applied