India’s banking crisis deepens

Yes Bank “could use a helping hand”, says Una Galani on Breakingviews. Bad loans at the private-sector bank – the fourth-largest in India by assets – are rising and the lender needs fresh capital to plug the gap. But with its shares down by 80% this year, investors are reluctant to step forward. And India has “no up-to-date framework on how to deal with troubled financial institutions”, so it’s unclear how the policymakers will resolve the issue, even though it’s certain that “allowing Yes Bank to flail would be the worst decision”.

Yes is “a particularly marked example”, but it is “not alone in its troubles”, says The Economist. “India’s banks are obviously faltering” as they deal with “the overhang from a splurge of bad lending years ago” – much of it to struggling property developers, industrial groups and to non-bank lenders (several of which have failed over the past year). In one example, police are investigating an alleged “vast lending fraud” at Punjab & Maharastra Co-operative Bank (PMC), a small lender that had 70% of its loan book tied to one bankrupt property developer.

The latter marks a new phase in the crisis because it’s the first deposit-taking institution to fail, says Andy Mukherjee on Bloomberg. That could send savers fleeing to the most reliable banks, worsening the liquidity of weaker ones.“PMC Bank is too tiny to pose a systemic threat, but a small dead canary in a coal mine is still a large warning sign.”