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Risk-Based Capital Standards and the Riskiness of Bank Portfolios: Credit and Factor Risks

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  • Steven R. Grenadier
  • Brian J. Hall
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    Abstract

    Bank risk-based capital (RBC) standards require banks to hold differing amounts of capital for different classes of assets, based almost entirely on a credit risk criterion. The paper provides both a theoretical and empirical framework for evaluating such standards. A model outlining a pricing methodology for loans subject to default risk is presented. The model shows that the returns on such loans are affected by the complicated interaction of the likelihood of default, the consequences of default, term structure variables, and the pricing of factor risks in the economy. When we examine whether the risk weights accurately reflect bank asset risk, we find that the weights fail even in their limited goal of correctly quantifying credit risk. For example, our findings indicate that the RBC weights overpenalize home mortgages, which have an average credit loss of 13 basis points, relative to commercial and consumer loans. The RBC rules also contain a significant bias against direct mortgages relative to mortgage- backed securities. In addition, we find large differences in the credit riskiness of loans within the 100 percent weight class and potentially large benefits to loan diversification, neither of which are considered in the RBC regulations. We also examine other types of bank risk by estimating a simple factor model that decomposes loan risk into term structure, default, and market risk. One implication of our findings is that although banks have reallocated their portfolios in ways intended by the RBC standards, they may have merely substituted one type of risk (term structure risk) for others (default and market risk), of which the net effect is unknown.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5178.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5178.

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    Date of creation: Jul 1995
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    Publication status: published as Regional Science and Urban Economics, vol. 26, no. 3-4, pp. 433-464, June 1996
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5178

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    1. Cox, John C & Ingersoll, Jonathan E, Jr & Ross, Stephen A, 1985. "A Theory of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 385-407, March.
    2. Merton, Robert C., 1977. "An analytic derivation of the cost of deposit insurance and loan guarantees An application of modern option pricing theory," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 3-11, June.
    3. Allen Berger & Gregory Udell, 1994. "Did Risk-Based Capital Allocate Bank Credit and Cause a `Credit Crunch' in the U.S.?," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 94-07, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Vasicek, Oldrich, 1977. "An equilibrium characterization of the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 177-188, November.
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    6. Bradley, Michael G. & Wambeke, Carol A. & Whidbee, David A., 1991. "Risk weights, risk-based capital and deposit insurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(4-5), pages 875-893, September.
    7. Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-70, May.
    8. Merton, Robert C, 1973. "An Intertemporal Capital Asset Pricing Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(5), pages 867-87, September.
    9. Ben S. Bernanke & Cara S. Lown, 1991. "The Credit Crunch," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 205-248.
    10. Jarrow, Robert A & Lando, David & Turnbull, Stuart M, 1997. "A Markov Model for the Term Structure of Credit Risk Spreads," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(2), pages 481-523.
    11. Robert B. Avery & Allen N. Berger, 1990. "Risk-based capital and deposit insurance reform," Working Paper 9101, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    12. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
    13. Shimko, David C, 1989. " The Equilibrium Valuation of Risky Discrete Cash Flows in Continuous Time," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(5), pages 1357-83, December.
    14. Joe Peek & Eric S. Rosengren, 1994. "Bank Real Estate Lending and the New England Capital Crunch," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 22(1), pages 33-58.
    15. Kane Edward J., 1993. "What Lessons Should Japan Learn from the U.S. Deposit-Insurance Mess?," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 329-355, December.
    16. Jones, David S. & King, Kathleen Kuester, 1995. "The implementation of prompt corrective action: An assessment," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 491-510, June.
    17. Merton, Robert C. & Bodie, Zvi, 1993. "Deposit insurance reform: a functional approach," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-34, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Thomas Gehrig, 1996. "Market Structure, Monitoring and Capital Adequacy Regulation," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 132(IV), pages 685-702, December.
    2. Skander Van den Heuvel, 2006. "The Bank Capital Channel of Monetary Policy," 2006 Meeting Papers 512, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Oda, Nobuyuki & Muranaga, Jun, 1997. "A New Framework for Measuring the Credit Risk of a Portfolio: The "ExVaR" Model," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 15(2), pages 27-62, December.
    4. Deep, Akash & Schaefer, Guido, 2004. "Are Banks Liquidity Transformers?," Working Paper Series rwp04-022, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. George Sheldon, 1996. "Capital Adequacy Rules and the Risk-Seeking Behavior of Banks: A Firm-Level Analysis," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 132(IV), pages 709-734, December.
    6. Brockett, P. L. & Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Huang, Z. M. & Sun, D. B., 1997. "Data transformations in DEA cone ratio envelopment approaches for monitoring bank performances," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 250-268, April.
    7. J. Christina Wang, 2003. "Loanable funds, risk, and bank service output," Working Papers 03-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    8. Honda, Yuzo, 2004. "Bank capital regulations and the transmission mechanism," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 675-688, September.

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