ATHENS – While Greece’s government has hailed European stress test results that showed the country’s banks barely passed standards, the country may still need more funding from its lenders if the institutions can’t cover their capital shortfalls.
The bank review ‘‘surpassed all expectations,’’ Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said, adding, ‘‘Step by step, on stable foundations, we are emerging from the crisis.’’
The review found that two big Greek banks have capital needs of 2.69 billion euros, or $3.4 billion, in additional capital to be handle any likely financial storm or economic crisis. The calculations were based on the state of the lenders at the end of 2013.
Coming up with additional capital might be achievable, and Athens officials said the relatively small amount was a sign that their country’s fragile economy was on course to recovery after a six-year recession and €240 billion in international bailouts from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
But the New York Times reported that analysts said the outcome did not lighten the challenges that Samaras’s beleaguered coalition government faces from Greeks weary of high unemployment and the austerity budgets and economic reforms that were insisted upon by the Troika.
‘‘The best scenario would have been zero capital needs,’’ said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst with the Eurasia Group in London. ‘‘Anything that subtracts from that context will make the political conversation for Greece more difficult and more complicated.’’
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said that €11.4 billion remained from a €50 billion recapitalization program financed by Greece’s international creditors and completed last year and Samaras wants that to be a buffer he can use for an early exit from its deal with the Troika, fearful of more austerity demands that have hurt support for his government.
The European Central Bank test results showed that three of the four major Greek banks would have required additional financing based on the lenders’ ledgers at the end of 2013.
But one of those banks, Piraeus, was found to have since raised adequate capital to satisfy regulators, covering a gap of 660 million euros.
Of the other two lenders deemed capital-deficient, Eurobank must raise €1.76 billion and National Bank of Greece must raise €930 million.
The optimism in Athens appeared to be based on a Greek central bank assessment that Eurobank and National Bank were better off than the ECB’s numbers suggested, because of various capital increases and restructuring plans that have been put in place this year, the Times said.
National Bank, for example, plans to raise money through the sale of its minority stake in the Turkish lender Finansbank.
According to the Central Bank, National Bank needs to raise only an additional €273 million and Eurobank an additional €17.5 million in capital.
Those banks have two weeks to file plans with the European Central Bank on how they plan to meet that shortfall and then have nine months to come up with the money.
Rahman, the Eurasia Group analyst, said that any additional capital requirements ‘‘raise a question of confidence.’’
Greece also wants to use the remaining funds from the recapitalization of Greek banks to go toward paying down its staggering debt, which stands at 174 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and as a precautionary credit line.