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In Search for Yield? New Survey-Based Evidence on Bank Risk Taking

There is growing consensus that the conduct of monetary policy can have an impact on financial and economic stability through the risk-taking incentives of banks. Falling interest rates might induce a “search for yield” and generate incentives to invest into risky activities. This paper provides evidence on the link between monetary policy and commercial property prices and the risk-taking incentives of banks. We use a factor-augmented vector autoregressive model (FAVAR) for the U.S. for the years 1997-2008. We include standard macroeconomic indicators and factors summarizing information provided in the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Terms of Business Lending. These data allow modeling the reactions of banks’ new lending volumes and the riskiness of new loans. We do not find evidence for a risk-taking channel for the entire banking system after a monetary policy loosening or an unexpected increase in property prices. This masks, however, important differences across banking groups. Small domestic banks increase their exposure to risk, foreign banks lower risk, and large domestic banks do not change their risk exposure.

15. March 2011

Authors Claudia M. Buch

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In Search for Yield? Survey-based Evidence on Bank Risk Taking

Claudia M. Buch S. Eickmeier Esteban Prieto

in: Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, No. 43, 2014

Abstract

Monetary policy can have an impact on economic and financial stability through the risk taking of banks. Falling interest rates might induce investment into risky activities. This paper provides evidence on the link between monetary policy and bank risk taking. We use a factor-augmented vector autoregressive model (FAVAR) for the US for the period 1997–2008. Besides standard macroeconomic indicators, we include factors summarizing information provided in the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Terms of Business Lending (STBL). These data provide information on banks׳ new loans as well as interest rates for different loan risk categories and different banking groups. We identify a risk-taking channel of monetary policy by distinguishing responses to monetary policy shocks across different types of banks and different loan risk categories. Following an expansionary monetary policy shock, small domestic banks increase their exposure to risk. Large domestic banks do not change their risk exposure. Foreign banks take on more risk only in the mid-2000s, when interest rates were ‘too low for too long’.

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