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.
Modelling Macroeconomic Risk: The Genesis of the European Debt Crisis
Diverging European sovereign bond yields after 2008 are the most visible sign of the European debt crisis. This dissertation examines in a first step, to which extent the development of yields is driven by credit and liquidity risk, and how it is influenced by general uncertainty on financial markets. It can be shown that yields are driven to a significant degree by a flight towards bonds of high liquidity in times of high market uncertainty. In a second step, high yields are interpreted as a sign of an existing crisis in the respective country. Using the signals approach, the early-warning capabilities of four different proposals for the design of the scoreboard as part of the “Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure” (introduced in December 2011 by the European Commission) are tested, advocating a scoreboard including a variety of many different indicators. In a third step, the methodology of the signals approach is extended to include also results on significance.
What Can Currency Crisis Models Tell Us about the Risk of Withdrawal from the EMU? Evidence from ADR Data
Journal of Common Market Studies,
We study whether ADR (American depositary receipt) investors perceive the risk that countries such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal or Spain could leave the eurozone to address financial problems produced by the sub-prime crisis. Using daily data, we analyse the impact of vulnerability measures related to currency crisis theories on ADR returns. We find that ADR returns fall when yield spreads of sovereign bonds or CDSs (credit default swaps) rise (i.e. when debt crisis risk increases); when banks' CDS premiums rise or stock returns fall (i.e. when banking crisis risk increases); or when the euro's overvaluation increases (i.e. when the risk of competitive devaluation increases).
A New Metric for Banking Integration in Europe
Europe and the Euro,
Most observers have concluded that while money markets and government bond markets are rapidly integrating following the introduction of the common currency in the euro area, there is little evidence that a similar integration process is taking place for retail banking. Data on cross-border retail bank flows, cross-border bank mergers and the law of one price reveal no evidence of integration in retail banking. This paper shows that the previous tests of bank integration are weak in that they are not based on an equilibrium concept and are neither necessary nor sufficient statistics for bank integration. The paper proposes a new test of integration based on convergence in banks' profitability. The new test emphasises the role of an active market for corporate control and of competition in banking integration. European listed banks profitability appears to converge to a common level. There is weak evidence that competition eliminates high profits for these banks, and underperforming banks tend to show improved profitability. Unlisted European banks differ markedly. Their profits show no tendency to revert to a common target rate of profitability. Overall, the banking market in Europe appears far from being integrated. In contrast, in the U.S. both listed and unlisted commercial banks profits converge to the same target, and high profit banks see their profits driven down quickly.
Equity and Bond Market Signals as Leading Indicators of Bank Fragility
Journal of Money, Credit and Banking,
We analyse the ability of the distance to default and subordinated bond spreads to signal bank fragility in a sample of EU banks. We find leading properties for both indicators. The distance to default exhibits lead times of 6-18 months. Spreads have signal value close to problems only. We also find that implicit safety nets weaken the predictive power of spreads. Further, the results suggest complementarity between both indicators. We also examine the interaction of the indicators with other information and find that their additional information content may be small but not insignificant. The results suggest that market indicators reduce type II errors relative to predictions based on accounting information only.
Market Indicators, Bank Fragility, and Indirect Market Discipline
Economic Policy Review,
A paper presented at the October 2003 conference “Beyond Pillar 3 in International Banking Regulation: Disclosure and Market Discipline of Financial Firms“ cosponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business at Columbia Business School.
Markets for Bank Subordinated Debt and Equity in Basel Committee Member Countries
BCBS Working Papers, No. 12,
This Basel Committee working paper is a study of the markets for banks' securities in ten countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States). It aims at contributing to the assessment of the potential effectiveness of direct and indirect market discipline. This is achieved through collecting a rich set of data on the detailed characteristics of the instruments used by banks to tap capital markets, the frequency and size of their issuance activity, and the share of issuing banks in national banking systems. Further, information is collected on the amounts of debt and equity outstanding and about trading volumes and liquidity. Developments over the period from 1990-2001 are evaluated.
The paper focuses on subordinated bonds among banks' debt instruments, because they are the prime class of uninsured instruments suited to generate market discipline and have been proposed by some observers as a mandatory requirement for banks.