18.10.2016 • 46/2016
No Sign of Price Distortions – Lack of Evidence for Effects of US Bank Bailouts
There has been much political and public controversy surrounding the very large rescue packages offered to the banking sector in the course of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009. The aim of the packages was to stabilise the financial sector and, therefore, the development of the real economy. The downsides of these bailouts were the enormous financial cost to the taxpayer, increased assumption of risk by the government and possible distortive effects on competition in the banking market – since not all banks were given financial support. Researchers at the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association led by Professor Felix Noth have now studied the long-term, indirect and possible market-distorting effects of the US rescue packages.
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Bank Recapitalization, Regulatory Intervention, and Repayment
Journal of Money, Credit and Banking,
We use prudential supervisory data for all German banks during 1994–2010 to test if regulatory interventions affect the likelihood that bailed-out banks repay capital support. Accounting for the selection bias inherent in nonrandom bank bailouts by insurance schemes and the endogenous administration of regulatory interventions, we show that regulators can increase the likelihood of repayment substantially. An increase in intervention frequencies by one standard deviation increases the annual probability of capital support repayment by 7%. Sturdy interventions, like restructuring orders, are effective, whereas weak measures reduce repayment probabilities. Intervention effects last up to 5 years.
11.08.2016 • 34/2016
2016 stress tests: Italian banks don’t look worse than German large commercial banks
The European Banking Authority today presented the results of the 2016 stress tests. They show that most European banks appear more or less stable. “What worries me is, however, that the Italian banks do not look worse than the large German commercial banks,” says Reint E. Gropp, president of the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH). “It appears that both Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank would benefit significantly from an increase in equity. The stress test was also missing two crucial points: One, the effect of a long lasting low interest rate environment on banks was not simulated. And second, the test did not take into consideration that many small institutions could fail at the same time. This is not an unlikely scenario, given how small banks in particular struggle with shrinking interest margins,“ says Gropp. Finally, the stress test should not distract from the urgency to solve the problems in the Italian banking system.
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10.08.2015 • 30/2015
Germany Benefited Substantially from the Greek Crisis
The balanced budget in Germany is largely the result of lower interest payments due to the European debt crisis. Research from the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association shows that the debt crisis resulted in a reduction in German bund rates of about 300 basis points (BP), yielding interest savings of more than EUR 100 billion (or more than 3% of gross domestic product, GDP) during the period 2010 to 2015. A significant part of this reduction is directly attributable to the Greek crisis. When discussing the costs to the German tax payer of saving Greece, these benefits should not be overlooked, as they tend to be larger than the expenses, even in a scenario where Greece does not repay any of its debts.
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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.
The Ex Ante versus Ex Post Effect of Public Guarantees
The Role of Central Banks in Financial Stability: How has it Changed?,
In October 2006, Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) introduced new ratings for banks that account for the potential of government support. The rating changes are not a reflection of any changes in the respective banks’ credit fundamentals. We use this natural experiment to evaluate the consequences of bail out expectations for bank behavior using a difference in differences approach. The results suggest a striking difference between the effects of bail out probabilities during calm times (“ex ante”) versus during crisis times (“ex post”). During calm times, higher bail-out probabilities result in higher risk taking, consistent with the moral hazard view and much of the empirical literature. However, in crisis times, we find that banks with higher bail out probabilities tend to increase their risk taking less compared to banks that were ex ante unlikely to be bailed-out. Charter values are one part of the explanation: Supported banks may have a funding advantage relative to non-supported banks during the crisis. However, we cannot rule out that other factors also may be playing a role, including tighter supervision of supported banks in crisis times.
Sovereign Default Risk and Decentralization: Evidence for Emerging Markets
European Journal of Political Economy,
We study the impact of decentralization on sovereign default risk. Theory predicts that decentralization deteriorates fiscal discipline since subnational governments undertax/overspend, anticipating that, in the case of overindebtedness, the federal government will bail them out. We analyze whether investors account for this common pool problem by attaching higher sovereign yield spreads to more decentralized countries. Using panel data on up to 30 emerging markets in the period 1993–2008 we confirm this hypothesis. Higher levels of fiscal and political decentralization increase sovereign default risk. Moreover, higher levels of intergovernmental transfers and a larger number of veto players aggravate the common pool problem.
Bank-specific Shocks and the Real Economy
Journal of Banking & Finance,
Governments often justify interventions into the financial system in the form of bail outs or liquidity assistance with the systemic importance of large banks for the real economy. In this paper, we analyze whether idiosyncratic shocks to loan growth at large banks have effects on real GDP growth. We employ a measure of idiosyncratic shocks which follows Gabaix (forthcoming). He shows that idiosyncratic shocks to large firms have an impact on US GDP growth. In an application to the banking sector, we find evidence that changes in lending by large banks have a significant short-run impact on GDP growth. Episodes of negative loan growth rates and the Eastern European countries in our sample drive these results.
Competition, Risk-shifting, and Public Bail-out Policies
Review of Financial Studies,
This article empirically investigates the competitive effects of government bail-out policies. We construct a measure of bail-out perceptions by using rating information. From there, we construct the market shares of insured competitor banks for any given bank, and analyze the impact of this variable on banks' risk-taking behavior, using a large sample of banks from OECD countries. Our results suggest that government guarantees strongly increase the risk-taking of competitor banks. In contrast, there is no evidence that public guarantees increase the protected banks' risk-taking, except for banks that have outright public ownership. These results have important implications for the effects of the recent wave of bank bail-outs on banks' risk-taking behavior.