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What are banks’ actual capital targets?

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  • Couaillier, Cyril

Abstract

How do banks set their target capital ratio? How do they adjust to reach it? This paper answers these questions using an original dataset of capital ratio targets directly announced to investors by European banks, materially improving data quality compared to usual estimated implicit target. It provides the following key lessons. First, targets are affected by capital requirements and a procyclical behavior consistent with market pressure. Second, banks do not distinguish between the different types of capital requirements for setting their targets, suggesting weak usability of the regulatory buffers. Third, the distance between actual CET1 ratio and the target is a valuable predictor of future balance-sheet adjustment, suggesting that banks actively drive their capital ratios toward their announced targets, through capital accumulation and portfolio rebalancing. Fourth, this adjustment occurs both above and below targets, but banks below target adjust faster, suggesting stronger pressure. These results provide important lessons for policymakers regarding the design of the prudential framework and the effectiveness of countercyclical policies. JEL Classification: E51, E58, G21, G28

Suggested Citation

  • Couaillier, Cyril, 2021. "What are banks’ actual capital targets?," Working Paper Series 2618, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20212618
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bank credit; bank regulation; target capital structure;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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