Banks Response to Higher Capital Requirements: Evidence from a Quasi-natural Experiment
We study the impact of higher capital requirements on banks’ balance sheets and their transmission to the real economy. The 2011 EBA capital exercise is an almost ideal quasi-natural experiment to identify this impact with a difference-in-differences matching estimator. We find that treated banks increase their capital ratios by reducing their risk-weighted assets, not by raising their levels of equity, consistent with debt overhang. Banks reduce lending to corporate and retail customers, resulting in lower asset, investment, and sales growth for firms obtaining a larger share of their bank credit from the treated banks.