Mar 3, 2022 - Economy & Business

Western banks' exposure to Russia, by the numbers

Source: Bank for International Settlements using calculation method from The Overshoot; Chart: Axios Visuals
Source: Bank for International Settlements using calculation method from The Overshoot; Chart: Axios Visuals

Western banks have seriously cut back on their exposure to Russia since the 2014 Crimea invasion. But that doesn't mean they aren't exposed to substantial losses as the nation is cut off from the global financial system.

Why it matters: The Western banking system doesn't look to be as exposed to Russia-related losses as would have been the case a few years ago. That reduces the risk of the war in Ukraine spurring a broader financial crisis.

By the numbers: Foreign banks had about $111 billion in immediate exposure to Russia at the end of September, and another $49 billion in indirect exposure like derivatives contracts and credit guarantees. That's down from a combined $450 billion in 2013.

  • Those numbers are from Bank for International Settlements data as crunched by Matthew Klein in his newsletter, The Overshoot, who uses a method aimed at summarizing banks' total financial exposure.

French and Italian banks have the most direct exposure, followed closely by Austria — though Austrian banks’ exposure is much higher relative to the size of its economy.

The American banking system has trivial exposure to Russia relative to its size: $25 billion total, in a $22.6 trillion banking system.

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