Cyprus may have banks once again—if no stock exchange—but no one’s quite ready to be deemed “just like Cyprus,” least of all Luxembourg and Malta. Which is true: Both have banking sectors that are, compared to their GDPs, waaaaay bigger than Cyprus’.
Luxembourg, a nation of 525,000 people sandwiched between Germany, France and Belgium, is a world financial center, packed with banks, investment funds and wealth-management firms catering to the very rich. The assets of its banking system are worth 22 times its annual economic output, by far the largest proportion in Europe and far higher than Cyprus, where bank assets are about seven times annual output….
In an interview published on Wednesday, the central-bank governor of Malta, a small country with big ambitions to build a financial sector, also dismissed as “misleading” any comparison with Cyprus. The assets of Malta’s major banks amount to “just below 300%” of gross domestic product, which by international standards was “within normal limits,” Josef Bonnici told the Times of Malta. Overall bank assets are around eight times GDP, according to European Central Bank data.