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The Vulnerability of Banks to Government Default Risk in the EMU

Listed author(s):
  • Arnold, Ivo
  • Lemmen, Jan

This paper examines the vulnerability of banks in EMU countries to shocks to default risk premiums on public debt. This vulnerability depends on the total amount of public debt in bank portfolios, the degree of geographical diversification of public debt holdings by banks, and the extent to which the default risk of EMU governments is diversifiable. We calculate the effect of country-specific default shocks on the public debt portfolios of banks. The calculations are based on data of public debt positions at the aggregate banking sector level and take into account the historical covariance structure of default risk premiums in the EMU. We compare the following scenarios. First, we calculate the effect on the standard deviation of the capital-to-assets ratio if banks continue to hold mainly domestic public debt. Next, we calculate this effect if banks diversify their investments in public debt. We find that the standard deviation of the capital-to-assets ratio can decline considerably if banks diversify their public debt holdings. We close with some implications for prudential regulation. Copyright 2001 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal International Finance.

Volume (Year): 4 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring)
Pages: 101-125

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Handle: RePEc:bla:intfin:v:4:y:2001:i:1:p:101-25
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  1. Jan J.G. Lemmen & Charles A.E. Goodhart, 1999. "Credit Risks and European Government Bond Markets: A Panel Data Econometric Analysis," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 77-107, Winter.
  2. Nouriel Roubini & Jeffrey Sachs, 1989. "Government Spending and Budget Deficits in the Industrial Economies," NBER Working Papers 2919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ivo Arnold, 1999. "The third leg of the stool: Financial stability as a prerequisite for EMU," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 135(2), pages 280-305, June.
  4. Giovannini, Alberto & Piga, Gustavo, 1992. "Understanding the High Interest Rates on Italian Government Securities," CEPR Discussion Papers 720, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Favero, Carlo A & Giavazzi, Francesco & Spaventa, Luigi, 1997. "High Yields: The Spread on German Interest Rates," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 956-985, July.
  6. Toni Gravelle, 1999. "Liquidity of the Government of Canada Securities Market: Stylised Facts and Some Market Microstructure Comparisons to the United States Treasury Market," CGFS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Market Liquidity: Research Findings and Selected Policy Implications, volume 11, pages 1-37 Bank for International Settlements.
  7. Jan J.G. Lemmen, 1999. "Managing Government Default Risk in Federal States," FMG Special Papers sp116, Financial Markets Group.
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