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When losses turn into loans: the cost of undercapitalized banks

Author

Listed:
  • Blattner, Laura
  • Farinha, Luísa
  • Rebelo, Francisca

Abstract

We provide evidence that a weak banking sector has contributed to low productivity growth following the European sovereign debt crisis. An unexpected increase in capital requirements for a subset of Portuguese banks in 2011 provides a natural experiment to study the effects of reduced bank capital adequacy on productivity. Affected banks respond not only by cutting back on lending but also by reallocating credit to firms in financial distress with prior underreported loan loss provisioning. We develop a method to detect when banks delay loss reporting using detailed loan-level data. We then show that the credit reallocation leads to a reallocation of production factors across rms. A partial equilibrium exercise suggests that the resulting increase in factor misallocation accounts for 20% of the decline in productivity in Portugal in 2012. JEL Classification: G21, G38, E51, D24, O47

Suggested Citation

  • Blattner, Laura & Farinha, Luísa & Rebelo, Francisca, 2019. "When losses turn into loans: the cost of undercapitalized banks," Working Paper Series 2228, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20192228
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    bank capital; banking regulation; misallocation; non-performing loans; productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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