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The Manipulation of Basel Risk-Weights

  • Mariathasan, Mike
  • Merrouche, Ouarda

In this paper, we examine the relationship between banks’ approval for the internal ratings-based (IRB) approaches of Basel II and the ratio of risk-weighted over total assets. Analysing a panel of 115 banks from 21 OECD countries that were eventually approved for applying the IRB to their credit portfolio, we find that risk-weight density is lower once regulatory approval is granted. The effect persists when we control for different loan categories, and we provide evidence showing that it cannot be explained by flawed modelling, or improved risk-measurement alone. Consistent with theories of risk-weight manipulation, we find the decline in risk-weights to be particularly prevalent among weakly capitalised banks, when the legal framework for supervision is weak, and in countries where supervisors are overseeing many IRB banks. We conclude that part of the decline in reported riskiness under the IRB results from banks’ strategic risk-modelling.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9494.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9494
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  1. Harald Hau & Sam Langfield & David Marques-Ibanez, 2013. "Bank ratings: what determines their quality?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 28(74), pages 289-333, 04.
  2. Keeley, Michael C. & Furlong, Frederick T., 1990. "A reexamination of mean-variance analysis of bank capital regulation," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 69-84, March.
  3. Mariathasan, Mike & Merrouche, Ouarda & Werger, Charlotte, 2014. "Bailouts And Moral Hazard: How Implicit Government Guarantees Affect Financial Stability," CEPR Discussion Papers 10311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  9. Furlong, Frederick T. & Keeley, Michael C., 1989. "Capital regulation and bank risk-taking: A note," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 883-891, December.
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  12. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. repec:dgr:uvatin:20110039 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Berger, Allen N. & Bouwman, Christa H.S., 2013. "How does capital affect bank performance during financial crises?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 146-176.
  15. Ouarda Merrouche & Enrica Detragiache & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, 2010. "Bank Capital; Lessons From the Financial Crisis," IMF Working Papers 10/286, International Monetary Fund.
  16. repec:dgr:uvatin:2011039 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Mike Mariathasan & Ouarda Merrouche, 2012. "Recapitalization, credit and liquidity," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 27(72), pages 603-646, October.
  18. Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc, 2012. "Bank valuation and accounting discretion during a financial crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 614-634.
  19. Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig, 2013. "The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 9929, April.
  20. Calem, Paul & Rob, Rafael, 1999. "The Impact of Capital-Based Regulation on Bank Risk-Taking," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 317-352, October.
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