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Bank Leverage and Monetary Policy's Risk-Taking Channel: Evidence from the United States

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  • GIOVANNI DELL'ARICCIA
  • LUC LAEVEN
  • GUSTAVO A. SUAREZ

Abstract

We present evidence of a risk-taking channel of monetary policy for the U.S. banking system. We use confidential data on the internal ratings of U.S. banks on loans to businesses over the period 1997 to 2011 from the Federal Reserve’s survey of terms of business lending. We find that ex-ante risk taking by banks (as measured by the risk rating of the bank’s loan portfolio) is negatively associated with increases in short-term policy interest rates. This relationship is less pronounced for banks with relatively low capital or during periods when banks’ capital erodes, such as episodes of financial and economic distress. These results contribute to the ongoing debate on the role of monetary policy in financial stability and suggest that monetary policy has a bearing on the riskiness of banks and financial stability more generally.
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Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Luc Laeven & Gustavo A. Suarez, 2017. "Bank Leverage and Monetary Policy's Risk-Taking Channel: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 72(2), pages 613-654, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:72:y:2017:i:2:p:613-654
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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