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Regulatory Constraints on Bank Leverage: Issues and Lessons from the Canadian Experience

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  • Étienne Bordeleau
  • Allan Crawford
  • Christopher Graham

Abstract

The Basel capital framework plays an important role in risk management by linking a bank's minimum capital requirements to the riskiness of its assets. Nevertheless, the risk estimates underlying these calculations may be imperfect, and it appears that a cyclical bias in measures of risk-adjusted capital contributed to procyclical increases in global leverage prior to the recent financial crisis. As such, international policy discussions are considering an unweighted leverage ratio as a supplement to existing risk-weighted capital requirements. Canadian banks offer a useful case study in this respect, having been subject to a regulatory ceiling on an unweighted leverage ratio since the early 1980s. The authors review lessons from the Canadian experience with leverage constraints, and provide some empirical analysis on how such constraints affect banks' leverage management. In contrast to a number of countries without regulatory constraints, leverage at major Canadian banks was relatively stable leading up to the crisis, reducing pressure for deleveraging during the economic downturn. Empirical results suggest that major Canadian banks follow different strategies for managing their leverage. Some banks tend to raise their precautionary buffer quickly, through sharp reductions in asset growth and faster capital growth, when a shock pushes leverage too close to its authorized limit. For other banks, shocks have more persistent effects on leverage, possibly because these banks tend to have higher buffers on average. Overall, the authors' results suggest that a leverage ceiling would be a useful tool to complement risk-weighted measures and mitigate procyclical tendencies in the financial system.

Suggested Citation

  • Étienne Bordeleau & Allan Crawford & Christopher Graham, 2009. "Regulatory Constraints on Bank Leverage: Issues and Lessons from the Canadian Experience," Discussion Papers 09-15, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocadp:09-15
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Leonardo Gambacorta & Sudipto Karmakar, 2018. "Leverage and Risk-Weighted Capital Requirements," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 14(5), pages 153-191, December.
    2. Bouvatier, Vincent & López-Villavicencio, Antonia & Mignon, Valérie, 2014. "Short-run dynamics in bank credit: Assessing nonlinearities in cyclicality," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 127-136.
    3. Papanikolaou, Nikolaos I. & Wolff, Christian C.P., 2014. "The role of on- and off-balance-sheet leverage of banks in the late 2000s crisis," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 3-22.
    4. Philippas, Dionisis & Papadamou, Stephanos & Tomuleasa, Iuliana, 2019. "The role of leverage in quantitative easing decisions: Evidence from the UK," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 308-324.
    5. Douglas da Rosa München & Herbert Kimura, 2020. "Regulatory Banking Leverage: what do you know?," Working Papers Series 540, Central Bank of Brazil, Research Department.
    6. Ingo Fender & Ulf Lewrick, 2016. "Adding it all up: the macroeconomic impact of Basel II and outstanding reform issues," BIS Working Papers 591, Bank for International Settlements.
    7. Bandyopadhyay, Satiprasad & Jha, Ranjini & Kennedy, Duane, 2017. "The effect of the US subprime crisis on Canadian banks," Advances in accounting, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 58-74.
    8. Shahchera , Mahshid, 2012. "The Impact of Liquidity on Iranian Bank Profitability," Journal of Money and Economy, Monetary and Banking Research Institute, Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, vol. 7(1), pages 139-160, October.
    9. Clovis Rugemintwari & Alain Sauviat & Amine Tarazi, 2012. "Bâle 3 et la réhabilitation du ratio de levier des banques. Pourquoi et comment ?," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 63(4), pages 809-820.
    10. Damar, H. Evren & Meh, Césaire A. & Terajima, Yaz, 2013. "Leverage, balance-sheet size and wholesale funding," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 639-662.
    11. Guidara, Alaa & Lai, Van Son & Soumaré, Issouf & Tchana, Fulbert Tchana, 2013. "Banks’ capital buffer, risk and performance in the Canadian banking system: Impact of business cycles and regulatory changes," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 3373-3387.
    12. Nikolaos Papanikolaou & Christian Wolff, 2010. "Leverage and risk in US commercial banking in the light of the current financial crisis," LSF Research Working Paper Series 10-12, Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg.
    13. Mihaela Sudacevschi, 2018. "The Impact Of Basel Iii Agreement On The Romanian Banking System," Global Economic Observer, "Nicolae Titulescu" University of Bucharest, Faculty of Economic Sciences;Institute for World Economy of the Romanian Academy, vol. 6(2), pages 104-110, December.
    14. Koichiro Kamada & Kentaro Nasu, 2010. "How Can Leverage Regulations Work for the Stabilization of Financial Systems?," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 10-E-2, Bank of Japan.
    15. Michael Brei & Leonardo Gambacorta, 2014. "The leverage ratio over the cycle," BIS Working Papers 471, Bank for International Settlements.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial institutions; Financial stability; Financial system regulation and policies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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