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Ending over-lending: assessing systemic risk with debt to cash flow

Listed author(s):
  • Sarlin, Peter
  • Ramsay, Bruce A.

This paper introduces the ratio of debt to cash flow (D/CF) of nations and their economic sectors to macroprudential analysis, particularly as an indicator of systemic risk and vulnerabilities. While leverage is oftentimes linked to the vulnerability of a nation, the stock of total debt and the flow of gross savings is a less explored measure. Cash flows certainly have a well-known connection to corporations' ability to service debt. This paper investigates whether the D/CF provides a means for understanding systemic risks. For a panel of 33 nations, we explore historic D/CF trends, and apply the same procedure to economic sectors. In terms of an early-warning indicator, we show that the D/CF ratio provides a useful additional measure of vulnerability to systemic banking and sovereign crises, relative to more conventional indicators. As a conceptual framework, the assessment of financial stability is arranged for presentation within four vulnerability zones, and exemplified with a number of illustrative case studies. JEL Classification: E21, F34, G01, H63

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1769.

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Date of creation: Mar 2015
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20151769
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  1. Rochelle M. Edge & Ralf R. Meisenzahl, 2011. "The Unreliability of Credit-to-GDP Ratio Gaps in Real Time: Implications for Countercyclical Capital Buffers," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 7(4), pages 261-298, December.
  2. Wynne Goldey & Marc Lavoie, 2007. "Fiscal policy in a stock-flow consistent (SFC) model," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 30(1), pages 79-100, October.
  3. Peter Sarlin, 2014. "Macroprudential oversight, risk communication and visualization," Papers 1404.4550, arXiv.org, revised Jun 2014.
  4. Mathias Drehmann, 2013. "Total credit as an early warning indicator for systemic banking crises," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, June.
  5. Drehmann, Mathias & Juselius, Mikael, 2014. "Evaluating early warning indicators of banking crises: Satisfying policy requirements," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 759-780.
  6. Betz, Frank & Oprică, Silviu & Peltonen, Tuomas A. & Sarlin, Peter, 2014. "Predicting distress in European banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 225-241.
  7. Sarlin, Peter, 2013. "On policymakers’ loss functions and the evaluation of early warning systems," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 1-7.
  8. King, Mervyn, 1994. "Debt deflation: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 419-445, April.
  9. Eric Tymoigne, 2014. "Measuring macroprudential risk through financial fragility: a Minskian approach," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 36(4), pages 719-744, July.
  10. Babecký, Jan & Havránek, Tomáš & Matějů, Jakub & Rusnák, Marek & Šmídková, Kateřina & Vašíček, Bořek, 2014. "Banking, debt, and currency crises in developed countries: Stylized facts and early warning indicators," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 1-17.
  11. Mathias Drehmann & Mikael Juselius, 2012. "Do debt service costs affect macroeconomic and financial stability?," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, September.
  12. Sarlin, Peter & Peltonen, Tuomas A., 2013. "Mapping the state of financial stability," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 46-76.
  13. Ilia D. Dichev, 2002. "Large-Sample Evidence on the Debt Covenant Hypothesis," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 1091-1123, September.
  14. Jong Lee & Jaemin Ryu & Dimitrios Tsomocos, 2013. "Measures of systemic risk and financial fragility in Korea," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 757-786, November.
  15. Edward I. Altman, 1968. "Financial Ratios, Discriminant Analysis And The Prediction Of Corporate Bankruptcy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 23(4), pages 589-609, September.
  16. Alessi, Lucia & Detken, Carsten, 2011. "Quasi real time early warning indicators for costly asset price boom/bust cycles: A role for global liquidity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 520-533, September.
  17. Rochelle M. Edge & Ralf R. Meisenzahl, 2011. "The unreliability of credit-to-GDP ratio gaps in real-time: Implications for countercyclical capital buffers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-37, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  18. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2010. "The Great Recession: Lessons from Microeconomic Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 51-56, May.
  19. Fuertes, Ana-Maria & Kalotychou, Elena, 2006. "Early warning systems for sovereign debt crises: The role of heterogeneity," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 1420-1441, November.
  20. Farrell, Greg, 2014. "Countercyclical capital buffers and real-time credit-to-GDP gap estimates: A South African perspective," MPRA Paper 55368, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  21. Lance Taylor, 2008. "A foxy hedgehog: Wynne Godley and macroeconomic modelling," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(4), pages 639-663, July.
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