Greece's embattled banking system will need to plug a €14bn (£9.9bn, $15.4bn) black hole to survive in a worst-case scenario, the European Central Bank has concluded. Following months of "stress testing" investigators at the ECB has said that if the economy deteriorates and loans turn bad, the country's four biggest banks will need recapitalising by €14.4bn. However, this would fall to €4.4bn under a more optimistic baseline forecast which assumes the country can return to reasonable growth by 2017.
The four lenders – Alpha, Piraeus, National Bank of Greece, and Eurobank – have until 6 November to inform the ECB how they plan to cover the potential capital shortfall. The final deadline to shore up the banks' balance sheets has been set at the end of the year to avoid private sector shareholders and depositors from being hit by new EU "bail-in" laws that come into force in 2016.
Around €25bn had been put in reserve as part of Greece's third bail-out deal to rescue failing banks. Athens was forced to shut down the financial system at the height of its woes in July. The country is still under capital controls which limit cash withdrawals from ATMs.