Avoiding the Fall into the Loop: Isolating the Transmission of Bank-to-Sovereign Distress in the Euro Area
Journal of Financial Stability,
While the sovereign-bank loop literature has demonstrated the amplification between sovereign and bank risks in the Euro Area, its econometric identification is vulnerable to reverse causality and omitted variable biases. We address the loop's endogenous nature and isolate the direct bank-to-sovereign distress channel by exploiting the global, non-Eurozone related variation in banks’ stock prices. We instrument banking sector stock returns in the Eurozone with exposure-weighted stock market returns from non-Eurozone countries and take further precautions to remove Eurozone-related variation. We find that the transmission of instrumented bank distress to sovereign distress is around 50% smaller than the corresponding coefficient in the unadjusted OLS framework, confirming concerns on endogeneity. Despite the smaller relative magnitude, increasing instrumented bank distress is found to be an economically and statistically significant cause for rising sovereign fragility in the Eurozone.
Comments on “Consultation BCBS discussion paper on the regulatory treatment of sovereign exposures”
The BCBS discussion paper on the regulatory treatment of sovereign exposures addresses a so far hardly touched topic as concerns capital regulation. While the regulatory framework has been changed substantially over recent years including the establishment of the European Banking Union, risk weights on sovereign exposures have remained mostly unchanged and sovereign exposures of banks benefit from a favourable capital treatment. This applies despite the fact that the recent European sovereign debt crisis has revealed the potential of a doom loop between bank and sovereign risk and demonstrated that sovereign exposures are by no means “risk-free”. The paper is thus an important proposal how to change the risk evaluation of banks’ sovereign exposures.
Sovereign Credit Risk, Banks' Government Support, and Bank Stock Returns around the World: Discussion of Correa, Lee, Sapriza, and Suarez
Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Vol. 46 (s1),
In the years leading up to the 2008–09 financial crisis, many banks around the world greatly expanded their balance sheets to take advantage of cheap and abundantly available funding. Access to international funding markets, in particular, made it possible for banks to reach a size that in some cases was a large multiple of their home countries’ gross domestic product (GDP). In Iceland, for example, assets of the banking system reached up to 900% of GDP in 2007. Similarly, by the end of 2008, assets in UK and Swiss banks exceeded 500% of their countries’ GDPs, respectively. Banks may also have grown rapidly because they may have wanted to reach too-big-to-fail status in their country, implying even lower funding cost (Penas and Unal 2004).
The depth and severity of the 2008–09 financial crisis and the subsequent debt crisis in Europe, however, have cast doubts on the ability of governments to bail out banks when they experience severe difficulties, in particular, in financially fragile environments and faced with large budget imbalances. This has resulted in as what some observers have dubbed a “doom loop”: the combination of weak public finances and weak banks results in a vicious cycle, in which the funding cost of banks increases, as the ability of governments to bail out banks is called into question, in turn increasing the funding cost of these banks and making the likelihood that the government will actually have to step in even higher, which in turn increases funding cost to the government and so forth.
Against this background, the paper by Correa et al. (2014) explores the link between sovereign rating changes and bank stock returns. They show large negative reactions of stock returns in response to sovereign ratings downgrades for banks that are expected to receive government support in case of failure. They find the strongest effects in developed economies, where the credibility of government bail outs is higher ex ante, while the effects are smaller in developing and emerging economies. In my view, the paper makes a number of important contributions to the extant literature.