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Robust Capital Regulation

  • Acharya, Viral V
  • Mehran, Hamid
  • Schuermann, Til
  • Thakor, Anjan

We address the following questions concerning bank capital: why are banks so highly levered, what are the consequences of this leverage for the economy as a whole, and how can robust capital regulation be designed to restrict bank leverage to levels that do not generate excessive systemic risk? Bank leverage choices are a delicate balancing act: credit discipline argues for more leverage so that creditors have adequate skin in the game, while balance-sheet opacity and ease of asset substitution by bank managers and shareholders argue for less. Disturbing this balance are regulatory safety nets that promote ex post financial stability but also create perverse incentives for banks to engage in correlated asset choices ex ante and thus hold little equity capital. We discuss how a two-tier capital requirement can cope with these distortions: a core capital requirement like existing capital requirements, and a special capital account that must be invested in Treasuries, accrues to the bank’s shareholders as long as the bank is solvent, and accrues to the regulators (rather than the creditors) if the bank fails. The special capital account requirement ensures creditors have skin in the game and also provides the second margin of safety in the calculation of capital adequacy--a buffer for the regulator’s own "model risk" in calculations of needed capital buffers.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8792.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8792
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  1. Viral V. Acharya & Hamid Mehran & Anjan Thakor, 2010. "Caught between Scylla and Charybdis? Regulating bank leverage when there is rent seeking and risk shifting," Staff Reports 469, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Acharya, Viral V. & Yorulmazer, Tanju, 2007. "Too many to fail--An analysis of time-inconsistency in bank closure policies," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-31, January.
  3. Donald P. Morgan, 2002. "Rating Banks: Risk and Uncertainty in an Opaque Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 874-888, September.
  4. Viral V. Acharya & João A. C. Santos & Tanju Yorulmazer, 2010. "Systemic risk and deposit insurance premiums," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Aug, pages 89-99.
  5. Hamid Mehran & Anjan Thakor, 2009. "Bank capital and value in the cross section," Staff Reports 390, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. Hamid Mehran & Alan Morrison & Joel Shapiro, 2011. "Corporate governance and banks: what have we learned from the financial crisis?," Staff Reports 502, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. Calomiris, Charles W & Kahn, Charles M, 1991. "The Role of Demandable Debt in Structuring Optimal Banking Arrangements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 497-513, June.
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