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The credit-to-GDP gap and countercyclical capital buffers: questions and answers

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  • Mathias Drehmann
  • Kostas Tsatsaronis

Abstract

Basel III uses the gap between the credit-to-GDP ratio and its long-term trend as a guide for setting countercyclical capital buffers. Criticism of this choice centres on three areas: (i) the suitability of the guide given the objective of the buffer; (ii) the early warning indicator properties of the guide for banking crises (especially for emerging market economies); and (iii) practical measurement problems. While many criticisms have merit, some misinterpret the objective of the instrument and the role of the indicator. Historically, for a large cross section of countries and crisis episodes, the credit-to-GDP gap is a robust single indicator for the build-up of financial vulnerabilities. As such, its role is to inform, rather than dictate, supervisors' judgmental decisions regarding the appropriate level of the countercyclical buffer.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathias Drehmann & Kostas Tsatsaronis, 2014. "The credit-to-GDP gap and countercyclical capital buffers: questions and answers," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:bisqtr:1403g
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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