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Bank Profitability during Recessions


  • Wilko Bolt
  • Leo de Haan
  • Marco Hoeberichts
  • Maarten van Oordt
  • Job Swank


This paper estimates the relation between bank profitability and economic downturns using a theoretical model that takes into account the bank's lending history as well as amortization and losses on outstanding loans. We focus on total bank profits and its components: net interest income, other income, and net provisioning plus other costs. Using both aggregate and individual bank panel datasets, our results confirm that pro-cyclicality of bank profits is stronger for deep recessions than during mild ones. Loan-losses are found to be the main driver of this nonlinearity. We find evidence that each percent contraction of real GDP during severe recessions leads to a 0.24 percent decrease in return on bank assets.

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  • Wilko Bolt & Leo de Haan & Marco Hoeberichts & Maarten van Oordt & Job Swank, 2010. "Bank Profitability during Recessions," DNB Working Papers 251, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:dnb:dnbwpp:251

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    More about this item


    Bank profitability; Business cycle;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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