Citicorp, which owns the nation's biggest bank, revealed detailed information today about its international loans that suggests that, on balance, the bank's major borrowers, and therefore the bank, would profit from a sharp decline in oil prices.
Some bankers and bank analysts worry that a sharp decline in oil prices will force already troubled major international borrowers such as Mexico and Venezuela to have further problems paying off the scores of billions of dollars they owe the world's banks, throwing the international financial system into turmoil.
Other analysts and bankers contend, however, that the benefits of an oil price decline would far outweigh the problems created for a few big borrowers.
Recovery from the worldwide recession would increase demand for commodities that are the export mainstay of most countries with debt problems such as Chile, Peru, Brazil and Argentina. Even a country such as Mexico, which ran up about $80 billion in debts, would feel some benefit of an oil price decline in other sectors of its economy.
In its 1982 annual report, released today, Citicorp revealed that about 3 percent of its total of $109 billion in loans is outstanding to Mexico, and another 1 percent is outstanding to Venezuela. But Brazil, where 4 percent of Citicorp's loans are outstanding, is a major oil importer with $80 billion in international debts and would be helped by a stiff oil-price decline. South Korea, also a major oil importer, accounts for 1 percent of Citicorp's total loans; Hong Kong, for 2 percent.
Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered major bank holding companies to report publicly when their loans to a country experiencing a cash crisis exceeded 1 percent of their total loans. In its report released today, Citicorp listed every country whose debts to Citicorp exceed 1 percent of Citicorp's total loans.
The giant company, which owns Citibank, said that institutions and governments in the United Kingdom tied Brazil as the biggest borrowers from the company, accounting for 4 percent of the bank's $109 billion in loans. Japan and Mexico were next at 3 percent. Hong Kong, a major international banking haven, accounted for 2 percent of the bank's total loans.
Countries accounting for 1 percent of Citibank's loans included Australia, West Germany, Canada, France, Venezuela, Argentina, Korea, the Philippines and Singapore.