Standard Bank opens the "big four" banks' reporting season this week, after warnings by the institutions that their results will be ugly, with higher bad debts and lower interest rates and business volumes driving earnings down by anything from 30%-90%.

And though the banks have done much to support customers during the lockdown, concern is mounting that the steep bad-debt provisions they are being forced to make in terms of new accounting rules - along with the increasing sums they are putting into the bond market to help fund the government's fiscal deficit - could see them put the lid on lending at a time when the economy most needs them.

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