Loan portfolios posted a rapid deterioration in March due to the ongoing recession, while market officials estimate that bad loans amounted to 44 billion euros, exceeding 18 percent of all debt.

The latest official figures by the Bank of Greece showed that at the end of December loans with a delay of more than 90 days in their repayment amounted to 15.9 percent of the total, which translated into 41.6 billion euros. At the end of December 2008, before the crisis erupted in earnest, the nonperforming loan (NPL) rate amounted to just 5 percent.

Bank officials note that this major deterioration in the first quarter of 2012 came despite the relative calm brought about by the formation of the coalition government by Lucas Papademos. They add that everything froze in May, first due to the pre-election period, then the political parties’ inability to form a government and major worries about the outcome of the crisis.

NPLs amounted to 14 percent for National Bank, 17.2 percent for Eurobank EFG, 15.7 percent for Alpha (including the consequences of the debt restructuring on state-guaranteed loans) and 16 percent for Piraeus. The above banks resorted to provisions of 1.5 billion euros to deal with these bad loans.