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What does the yield on subordinated bank debt measure?

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  • Urs W. Birchler
  • Diana Hancock

Abstract

We provide evidence that a bank's subordinated debt yield spread is not, by itself, a sufficient measure of default risk. We use a model in which subordinated debt is held by investors with superior knowledge ("informed investor hypothesis"). First, we show that in theory the yield spread on subordinated debt must compensate investors for expected loss plus give them an incentive not to prefer senior debt. Second we present strong empirical evidence in favor of the informed investor hypothesis and of the existence of the incentive premium predicted by the model. Using data on the timing and pricing of public debt issues made by large U.S. banking organizations during the 1985-2002 period, we find that banks issue relatively more subordinated debt in good times, i.e. when informed investors have good news. Spreads at issuance (corrected for sample selection bias) react to (superior) private and to public information, in line with the comparative statics of the postulated incentive premium. Interestingly, as the model predicts, the influence of sophisticated investors' information on the subordinated yield spread became weaker after the introduction of prompt corrective action and depositor preference reforms, while the influence of public risk perception grew stronger. Finally, our model explains anomalies from the empirical literature on subordinated debt spreads and from market interviews (e.g. limited sensitivity to bank-specific risk and the "ballooning" of spreads in bad times). We conclude that a bank's subordinated yield spread conveys important information if interpreted together with its senior spread and with other banks' subordinated yield spreads.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2004-19.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-19

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Keywords: Debt ; Banking market;

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References

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  1. Diana Hancock & Myron Kwast, 2001. "Using Subordinated Debt to Monitor Bank Holding Companies: Is it Feasible?," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 147-187, October.
  2. Douglas D. Evanoff & Larry D. Wall, 2001. "Sub-debt yield spreads as bank risk measures," Working Paper 2001-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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  5. Campbell-Pownall, R.A.J. & Huisman, R., 2002. "Measuring Credit Spread Risk," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2002-95-F&A, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
  6. Diamond, Douglas W., 1993. "Seniority and maturity of debt contracts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 341-368, June.
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  9. Samuel Reynard, 2004. "Financial Market Participation and the Apparent Instability of Money Demand," Working Papers 2004-01, Swiss National Bank.
  10. anonymous, 1999. "Using subordinated debt as an instrument of market discipline," Staff Studies 172, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Diana Hancock & Myron L. Kwast, 2001. "Using subordinated debt to monitor bank holding companies: is it feasible?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Karl B. Diether & Christopher J. Malloy & Anna Scherbina, 2002. "Differences of Opinion and the Cross Section of Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(5), pages 2113-2141, October.
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  15. Douglas D. Evanoff & Larry D. Wall, 2000. "Subordinated debt as bank capital: a proposal for regulatory reform," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 40-53.
  16. Urs W. Birchler, 1999. "Bankruptcy Priority for Bank Deposits: a Contract Theoretic Explanation," Working Papers 00.01, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  17. Pierre Collin-Dufresne, 2001. "The Determinants of Credit Spread Changes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2177-2207, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jens Forssbæck, 2011. "Divergence of risk indicators and the conditions for market discipline in banking," SUERF Studies, SUERF - The European Money and Finance Forum, number 2011/4.
  2. Bakhshi, Hasan & Khan, Hashmat & Rudolf, Barbara, 2006. "The Phillips Curve Under State-Dependent Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 5945, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Urs W. Birchler & Matteo Facchinetti, 2007. "Can Bank Supervisors Rely on Market Data? A Critical Assessment from a Swiss Perspective," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 143(II), pages 95-132, June.
  4. Belkhir, Mohamed, 2013. "Do subordinated debt holders discipline bank risk-taking? Evidence from risk management decisions," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 705-719.
  5. Daniel M. Covitz & Diana Hancock & Myron L. Kwast, 2004. "A reconsideration of the risk sensitivity of U.S. banking organization subordinated debt spreads: a sample selection approach," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 73-92.
  6. Clemens Kool, 2006. "Financial Stability in European Banking: The Role of Common Factors," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 525-540, December.
  7. Daniel M. Covitz & Diana Hancock & Myron L. Kwast, 2004. "Market discipline in banking reconsidered: the roles of funding manager decisions and deposit insurance reform," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Baba, Naohiko & Inada, Masakazu, 2009. "Why do Japanese regional banks issue subordinated debts?," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 358-364, December.
  9. Zhang, Zhichao & Song, Wei & Sun, Xin & Shi, Nan, 2014. "Subordinated debt as instrument of market discipline: Risk sensitivity of sub-debt yield spreads in UK banking," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-21.
  10. Jens Forssbaeck, 2011. "Divergence of risk indicators and the conditions for market discipline in banking," Chapters in SUERF Studies, SUERF - The European Money and Finance Forum.
  11. Naohiko Baba & Masakazu Inada & Yasuo Maeda, 2007. "Determinants of Subordinated Debt Issuance by Japanese Regional Banks," IMES Discussion Paper Series 07-E-03, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.

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