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The “Greatest” Carry Trade Ever? Understanding Eurozone Bank Risks

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  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Sascha Steffen

Abstract

We show that Eurozone bank risks during 2007-2012 can be understood as a “carry trade” behavior. Bank equity returns load positively on peripheral (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy, or GIPSI) bond returns and negatively on German government bond returns, a position that generated “carry” until the deteriorating GIPSI bond returns inflicted losses on banks. The positive GIPSI loadings correlate with banks’ holdings of GIPSI bonds; and, the negative German loading with banks’ short-term debt exposures. Consistent with moral hazard in the form of risk-taking by large, under-capitalized banks to exploit government guarantees, arbitrage regulatory risk weights, and access central-bank funding, we find that this carry-trade behavior is stronger for large banks, and banks with low Tier 1 ratios and high risk-weighted assets, in both GIPSI and non-GIPSI countries’ banks, but not so for similar banks in other Western economies or for non-bank firms.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19039.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19039

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Cited by:
  1. Harald Uhlig, 2013. "Sovereign Default Risk and Banks in a Monetary Union," NBER Working Papers 19343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hale, Galina & Obstfeld, Maurice, 2014. "The euro and the geography of international debt flows," Working Paper Series 2014-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Eser, Fabian & Schwaab, Bernd, 2013. "Assessing asset purchases within the ECB’s securities markets programme," Working Paper Series 1587, European Central Bank.
  4. Buch, Claudia M. & Koetter, Michael & Ohls, Jana, 2013. "Banks and sovereign risk: A granular view," Discussion Papers 29/2013, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  5. Beck, Thorsten & De Jonghe, Olivier, 2013. "Lending concentration, bank performance and systemic risk : exploring cross-country variation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6604, The World Bank.
  6. Portes, Richard & Fouquau, Julien & Delatte, Anne-Laure, 2014. "Nonlinearities in Sovereign Risk Pricing: The Role of CDS Index Contract," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/13143, Paris Dauphine University.
  7. Paolo Angelini & Giuseppe Grande & Fabio Panetta, 2014. "The negative feedback loop between banks and sovereigns," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 213, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  8. Carlos Pérez Montes, 2013. "The impact of interbank and public debt markets on the competition for bank deposits," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 1319, Banco de Espa�a.
  9. Nicola Gennaioli & Alberto Martin & Stefano Rossi, 2013. "Banks, government bonds, and default: what do the data say?," Economics Working Papers 1378, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2014.
  10. Russell Cooper & Kalin Nikolov, 2013. "Government Debt and Banking Fragility: The Spreading of Strategic Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 19278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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