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The Determinants of Bank Capital Structure

The paper shows that mispriced deposit insurance and capital regulation were of second-order importance in determining the capital structure of large U.S. and European banks during 1991 to 2004. Instead, standard cross-sectional determinants of non-financial firms’ leverage carry over to banks, except for banks whose capital ratio is close to the regulatory minimum. Consistent with a reduced role of deposit insurance, we document a shift in banks’ liability structure away from deposits towards non-deposit liabilities. We find that unobserved time-invariant bank fixed-effects are ultimately the most important determinant of banks’ capital structures and that banks’ leverage converges to bank specific, time-invariant targets.

30. March 2010

Authors Reint E. Gropp Florian Heider

Professor Reint E. Gropp, PhD

About the author

Professor Reint E. Gropp, PhD

Reint E. Gropp joined the Institute as President in November 2014. He is also a Professor of Economics at the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg. He is Associate Fellow of the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and serves as consultant for various central banks.

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