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Banks' mood change bodes well

AS the business year draws to an end the Punt keeps running into happy bankers, an unusual, even unsettling, state of affairs after five long years of crisis.

It's a big change from this time last year, when moods were darkened by the seemingly imminent destruction of Europe and all it held dear.

As 2012 draws to a close there is a sense that if things are getting worse, at least they are getting worse less quickly – a state of affairs known in the business as the "point of inflection".

And to what do we owe the turnaround?

Well, according to more or less everyone the Punt meets, credit goes first and foremost to their own institution – in every case doing better than the sector as a whole apparently, but with Mario Draghi a close second.

There can hardly be a banker, or bank shareholder, not grateful to "super Mario" for his decision to turn the European Central Bank into a lender of last resort.

So can an Italian banker save Europe? Stranger things have happened.

The Italians invented banking after all, and if Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schauble get anxious about Draghi's ever-growing influence in Frankfurt they can always comfort themselves that the Pope in Rome is a Bavarian.

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