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Javier Mencía

4 March 2019
We study determinants of sovereign portfolios of Spanish banks over a long time-span, starting in 2008. Our findings challenge the view that banks engaged in moral hazard strategies to exploit the regulatory treatment of sovereign exposures. In particular, we show that being a weakly capitalized bank is not related to higher holdings of domestic sovereign debt. While a strong link is present between central bank liquidity support and sovereign holdings, opportunistic strategies or reach-for-yield behavior appear to be limited to the non-domestic sovereign portfolio of well-capitalized banks, which might have taken advantage of their higher risk-bearing capacity to gain exposure (via central bank liquidity) to the set of riskier sovereign bonds. Furthermore, we document that financial fragmentation in EMU markets has played a key role in reshaping sovereign portfolios of banks. Overall, our results have important implications for the ongoing discussion on the optimal design of the risk-weighted capital framework of banks.
12 April 2019
The paper proposes a framework for assessing the impact of system-wide and bank-level capital buffers. The assessment rests on a factor-augmented vector autoregression (FAVAR) model that relates individual bank adjustments to macroeconomic dynamics. We estimate FAVAR models individually for eleven euro area economies and identify structural shocks, which allow us to diagnose key vulnerabilities of national banking systems and estimate short-run economic costs of increasing banks’ capitalisation. On this basis, we run a fully-fledged cost-benefit assessment of an increase in capital buffers. The benefits are related to an increase in bank resilience to adverse shocks. Higher capitalisation allows banks to withstand negative shocks and moderates the reduction of credit to the real economy that ensues in adverse circumstances. The costs relate to transitory credit and output losses that are assessed both on an aggregate and bank level. An increase in capital ratios is shown to have a sharply different impact on credit and economic activity depending on the way banks adjust, i.e. via changes in assets or equity.
JEL Code
E51 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Money Supply, Credit, Money Multipliers
G21 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Banks, Depository Institutions, Micro Finance Institutions, Mortgages
G28 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Government Policy and Regulation