FRANKFURT, March 20 (Reuters) - Cash deposits to cover guarantees posted against European Central Bank loans returned to normal levels last week, after Greece’s debt swap deal had pushed them to an all-time high as banks were forced to plug temporary holes in their ECB accounts.
Deposits related to margin calls - money banks place at the ECB if the market value of their collateral declines - fell 17.2 billion euros last week, wiping out almost completely the record 17.3 billion euros banks had at the ECB previously.
The rise came about after Greece’s debt restructuring put the country in default. The knock-on effect was that Greek debt was no longer eligible to be used as collateral at the ECB, meaning that if banks had no alternative assets, they either had to pay their ECB loans back or use cash from elsewhere.
Details were published in the combined balance sheet of the ECB and the 17 national central banks.
The figures also showed that gold and gold receivables held by euro zone central banks remained unchanged at 423.449 billion euros in the week ending March 16.
Net foreign exchange reserves rose by 1 billion euros to 250.7 billion euros, while the overall size of the combined balance sheet fell to below 3 trillion euros for the first time since the end of February, to 2.986 trillion euros ($3.95 trillion). ($1 = 0.7552 euros) (Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Patrick Graham)