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Are Banks Procyclical? Evidence from the Italian Case (1890-1973)

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  • Carlo Brambilla

    ()

  • Giandomenico Piluso

    ()

Abstract

Recently a number of studies on banking systems’ procyclicality have been drawn. Such an issue, often developed as a consequence of Basel 2 agreements, is related with credit crunch phenomena and financial stability. Typically, a temporary shock may produce a long term effect following or amplifying fluctuations through finance. For this reason procyclicality may significantly affect capital accumulation and long-term growth. Therefore, verifying and measuring whether a banking system is, or is not, procyclical is relevant in order to understand which effects regulatory schemes and financial architectures can produce on capital formation processes. While studies generally have a short period perspective, this paper analyses business fluctuations and banking cycles in the long run. The Italian financial history could provide useful insights because its evolutionary path experimented two different banking patterns. Universal banking prevailed until the Great Depression, whilst specialised financial institutions emerged afterwards. Economic historians have considered Italian universal banks, up to the early 1930s, a convincing example of procyclical intermediaries. Such hypothesis relies on qualitative research based on case studies, but it has not been verified in quantitative terms, yet. Thus, this paper aims to verify procyclicality of the Italian banking system in the long run applying VAR analysis on a wide set of economic and financial indicators. What emerges is that a certain cycle-smoothing effect is observed during the whole period, in spite of the major institutional shock occurred in the early 1930s (i.e. the new bank law), whilst relevant changes in banks’ asset structures suggest that central bank and government intervention had important impact on banks behaviour and policies

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 523.

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Date of creation: Dec 2007
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:523

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Keywords: credit cycles; business cycles; procyclicality; credit crunch; financial stability; universal banking;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Yunyong Thaicharoen & Rungporn Roengpitya & Jiranit Chaowalit & Songklod Rastapana, 2009. "Developing the Efficient and Resilient Financial System for Thailand: Lessons from the Crisis and Challenges Ahead," Working Papers 2009-04, Economic Research Department, Bank of Thailand.
  2. Ricardo Bebczuk & Tamara Burdisso & Jorge Carrera & Máximo Sangiácomo, 2011. "A New Look into Credit Procyclicality: International Panel Evidence," BCRA Working Paper Series 201155, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department.
  3. Giandomenico Piluso & Roberto Ricciuti, 2008. "Fiscal Policy and the Banking System in Italy. Have Taxes, Public Spending and Banks been Procyclical in the Long-Run?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2442, CESifo Group Munich.

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