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Testing Macroprudential Stress Tests: The Risk of Regulatory Risk Weights

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  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Robert Engle
  • Diane Pierret

Abstract

Macroprudential stress tests have been employed by regulators in the United States and Europe to assess and address the solvency condition of financial firms in adverse macroeconomic scenarios. We provide a test of these stress tests by comparing their risk assessments and outcomes to those from a simple methodology that relies on publicly available market data and forecasts the capital shortfall of financial firms in severe market-wide downturns. We find that: (i) The losses projected on financial firm balance-sheets compare well between actual stress tests and the market-data based assessments, and both relate well to actual realized losses in case of future stress to the economy; (ii) In striking contrast, the required capitalization of financial firms in stress tests is found to be rather low, and inadequate ex post, compared to that implied by market data; (iii) This discrepancy arises due to the reliance on regulatory risk weights in determining required levels of capital once stress-test losses are taken into account. In particular, the continued reliance on regulatory risk weights in stress tests appears to have left financial sectors under-capitalized, especially during the European sovereign debt crisis, and likely also provided perverse incentives to build up exposures to low risk-weight assets.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18968.

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Date of creation: Apr 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18968

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  1. Samuel G. Hanson & Anil K. Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 2011. "A Macroprudential Approach to Financial Regulation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
  2. Xin Huang & Hao Zhou & Haibin Zhu, 2012. "Systemic Risk Contributions," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 55-83, October.
    • Xin Huang & Hao Zhou & Haibin Zhu, 2011. "Systemic risk contributions," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Macroprudential regulation and policy, volume 60, pages 36-43 Bank for International Settlements.
  3. Petrella, Giovanni & Resti, Andrea, 2013. "Supervisors as information producers: Do stress tests reduce bank opaqueness?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5406-5420.
  4. Xin Huang & Hao Zhou & Haibin Zhu, 2009. "A Framework for Assessing the Systemic Risk of Major Financial Institutions," BIS Working Papers 281, Bank for International Settlements.
  5. Thomas Breuer & Martin Jandacka & Klaus Rheinberger & Martin Summer, 2009. "How to Find Plausible, Severe and Useful Stress Scenarios," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 5(3), pages 205-224, September.
  6. Rodrigo Alfaro & Mathias Drehmann, 2009. "Macro stress tests and crises: what can we learn?," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, December.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. ECB AQR: Nervous Banks Make Banking Safer
    by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2014-05-15 19:07:35
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Cited by:
  1. Alexander, Gordon J. & Baptista, Alexandre M. & Yan, Shu, 2014. "Bank regulation and international financial stability: A case against the 2006 Basel framework for controlling tail risk in trading books," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 107-130.
  2. Acharya, Viral V. & Steffen, Sascha, 2014. "Falling short of expectations? Stress-testing the European banking system," CEPS Papers 8803, Centre for European Policy Studies.

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