I made this point before when I discussed the exposure of a French bank (Societe Generale) to Greek debt in comparison to other losses such as the loss that a single trader (Jerome Kerviel) caused to that bank back in January 2008.
Today I see that Societe Generale released the results of the third quarter of 2011 and that comparison has become even more interesting. In a balance sheet of about EUR 650 bn, exposure to Greek government debt is as low as EUR 575m. Exposure to the government debt of Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy combined is “only” EUR 3.4bn. This combined amount remains below the loss caused by Kerviel back in 2008 (about EUR 4.9 bn).
(Note: there is nothing specific about Societe Generale in this analysis. I just picked it up as an example of a large French bank. I assume that others look similar.)