While fears stirred by Greece’s deepening debt crisis raced Wednesday through global financial markets, a quick check of U.S. banks showed they risk losses on tens of billions of dollars should the Mediterranean nation default on its payments.
U.S. banks had total exposure of $41 billion to Greece by the end of 2010, according to the latest figures from the Bank for International Settlements issued June 9. Most of the financial commitments appear to be indirect.
About 83% is tied to “guarantees” that range from protection for sellers of credit derivative contracts to other obligations owed to third parties. Still the data are murky, according economic consultant Kash Mansori.
“We don’t know exactly what the form of exposure is,” said Mansori, who authors the Street Light blog. “We can only make educated guesses.”