Financial Stability



In a nutshell

Following the outbreak of the financial crisis, no other requirement was higher on the political agenda than the stabilisation of the financial markets. IWH has conducted extensive research into the impact of these rescue packages and their political consequences.

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Both the US and European governments launched a number of support and regulatory measures that were intended to meet the requirement for increased stability in the financial sector. But today, over eight years after the onset of the crisis, the impact of these actions is often in question: what was the effect of increasing banks' deposit protection, for example? Have they reduced the knock-on effects of crises, as governments hoped? Did the colossal acquisition of banking shares distort the market? Deposit protection schemes are a high-profile way of regulating a financial system. If a bank becomes insolvent, these systems guarantee that a certain amount of money will be paid out. This is intended to prevent large numbers of bank customers reclaiming their private deposits from the bank because they fear losing their assets. Actually, no bank is in a position to repay the amounts it holds to all its customers at once. Such a bank-run must therefore be prevented at all costs. But raising deposit protection in the US from USD 100,000 to USD 250,000 did not result in increased security. In fact, exactly the opposite occurred: banks began to operate in much more risky business areas. There is a simple reason for this: “If a bank successfully operates in high-risk areas, such as commercial property, it earns significantly more than in less risky areas. If it miscalculates, however, the deposit protection scheme automatically bears the bank's liability,” explains Felix Noth, Financial Market Expert at IWH. “In order to stabilise the financial system in the short-term, long-term increased risk incentives for banks are therefore accepted. And this can potentially lead to the next financial crisis.”

The usefulness of deposit protection schemes is mainly in question, because there has been a range of other measures aimed at stabilising floundering banks. Such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of 2008, for example, one of the largest stabilisation measures in the US, with a budget of USD 475 billion. IWH calculations for all US banks suggest, for example, that competition between those banks that received money from the TARP Program and those that did not benefit from TARP, did not suffer any long-term damage as a result of this rescue package. 112% of the funds paid out by the US Government to rescue the banks were also repaid – so American tax-payers even made a profit from rescuing the banks.
The financial crisis of recent years has primarily revealed the possible knock-on effects of various financial systems. It showed, for example, that the turmoil in Europe and the US had an impact on lending and regional employment in Latin and South American countries. But it's not only overseas funding that determines whether a bank is in foreign hands or not - its corporate structure also plays a part. Banks financed from overseas, for example, extended their loans to a much greater extent than those that belonged to overseas institutions – and therefore made a significantly greater contribution to stability.

Banks can have varying influences on systems in their native markets or in the whole of the EU. Although a single regulatory body in Europe would be desirable – how would this work? There are now many proposals for increased stability in the financial sector, ranging from a central EU Authority or national monitoring, to the separation of investment banking and deposit business. The establishment of the European banking union is a welcome first step. But current developments in the European financial market clearly show that there is still much work to be done.

Publications on "Financial Stability"


Does Machine Learning Help us Predict Banking Crises?

Johannes Beutel Sophia List Gregor von Schweinitz

in: Journal of Financial Stability, forthcoming

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Lending Effects of the ECB’s Asset Purchases

Michael Koetter

in: Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming


Between 2010 and 2012, the European Central Bank absorbed €218 billion worth of government securities from five EMU countries under the Securities Markets Programme (SMP). Detailed security holdings data at the bank level affirms an effective lending stimulus due to the SMP. Exposed banks contract household lending, but increase commercial lending substantially. Holding non-SMP securities from stressed EMU countries amplifies the commercial lending response. The SMP also improved liquidity buffers and profitability without compromising credit quality.

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Cross-border Transmission of Emergency Liquidity

Thomas Kick Michael Koetter Manuela Storz

in: Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming


We show that emergency liquidity provision by the Federal Reserve transmitted to non-U.S. banking markets. Based on manually collected holding company structures, we identify banks in Germany with access to U.S. facilities. Using detailed interest rate data reported to the German central bank, we compare lending and borrowing rates of banks with and without such access. U.S. liquidity shocks cause a significant decrease in the short-term funding costs of the average German bank with access. This reduction is mitigated for banks with more vulnerable balance sheets prior to the inception of emergency liquidity. We also find a significant pass-through in terms of lower corporate credit rates charged for banks with the lowest pre-crisis leverage, US-dollar funding needs, and liquidity buffers. Spillover effects from U.S. emergency liquidity provision are generally confined to short-term rates.

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Lokaler Schock trifft lokale Bank: Die Folgen der Hochwasser des Jahres 2013 für das deutsche Finanzsystem

Benjamin Freudenstein Michael Koetter Felix Noth

in: Wirtschaft im Wandel, No. 2, 2020


Welche Auswirkungen makroökonomische Schocks in Form von Naturkatastrophen auf Banken haben und welche realwirtschaftlichen Implikationen sich daraus ergeben können, wurde unter dem Titel „Katrina und die Folgen: Sicherere Banken und positive Produktionseffekte“ bereits an früherer Stelle in der „Wirtschaft im Wandel“ dargestellt. Daran anknüpfend stellt dieser Artikel einen Forschungsbeitrag vor, der die Folgen der Hochwasser des Jahres 2013 in Deutschland für die Sparkassen und Genossenschaftsbanken und deren Unternehmenskunden untersucht. Im Mittelpunkt steht die Frage, ob lokale Banken die negativen Effekte des Hochwassers mildern, indem sie die Kreditvergabe an Unternehmen ausweiten. Der Befund ist erstens, dass Banken, die Beziehungen zu betroffenen Unternehmen haben, ihre Kreditvergabe um 3% relativ zu Banken ohne Beziehungen zu betroffenen Unternehmen ausweiten, und zweitens, dass bei Sparkassen mit Zugang zu nicht betroffenen regionalen Märkten keine signifikante Erhöhung des Kreditrisikos zu beobachten ist. Ein gegenüber regionalen Katastrophen widerstandsfähiges Finanzsystem sollte somit aus lokalen Banken bestehen, die gleichwohl überregional verbunden sind, damit ausreichende Möglichkeiten zur Diversifikation bestehen.

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The Corona Recession and Bank Stress in Germany

Reint E. Gropp Michael Koetter William McShane

in: IWH Online, No. 4, 2020


We conduct stress tests for a large sample of German banks across different recoveries from the Corona recession. We find that, depending on how quickly the economy recovers, between 6% to 28% of banks could become distressed from defaulting corporate borrowers alone. Many of these banks are likely to require regulatory intervention or may even fail. Even in our most optimistic scenario, bank capital ratios decline by nearly 24%. The sum of total loans held by distressed banks could plausibly range from 127 to 624 billion Euros and it may take years before the full extent of this stress is observable. Hence, the current recession could result in an acute contraction in lending to the real economy, thereby worsening the current recession , decelerating the recovery, or perhaps even causing a “double dip” recession. Additionally, we show that the corporate portfolio of savings and cooperative banks is more than five times as exposed to small firms as that of commercial banks and Landesbanken. The preliminary evidence indicates small firms are particularly exposed to the current crisis, which implies that cooperative and savings banks are at especially high risk of becoming distressed. Given that the financial difficulties may seriously impair the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, the pressure to bail out large parts of the banking system will be strong. Recent research suggests that the long run benefits of largely resisting these pressures may be high and could result in a more efficient economy.

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