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Are banks too big to fail or too big to save? International evidence from equity prices and CDS spreads

  • Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli
  • Huizinga, Harry

Deteriorating public finances around the world raise doubts about countries’ abilities to bail out their largest banks. For an international sample of banks, this paper investigates the impact of bank size and government deficits on bank stock prices and CDS spreads. We find that a bank’s market-to-book value is negatively related to the size of its liabilities-to-GDP ratio, especially in countries running large public deficits. CDS spreads appear to decrease with stronger public finances. These results suggest that systemically important banks can increase their value by downsizing or splitting up, especially if they are located in countries with weak public finances. We document that banks’ average liabilities-to-GDP ratio reached a peak in 2007 before a significant drop in 2008, which could reflect these private incentives to downsize.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Banking & Finance.

Volume (Year): 37 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 875-894

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:37:y:2013:i:3:p:875-894
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbf

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