Are banks forward-looking in their loan loss provisioning? Evidence from the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS)
The purpose of this study is to empirically analyze if loan loss provisioning is forward-looking. Using a confidential dataset that directly helps us identify loan demand and loan supply at the bank level, we test if the banks’ provisioning behavior is different before and after the crisis. We find, for the entire sample of banks, loan loss provisioning is forward-looking and statistically significant in the post-crisis period. Our results show that the top quartiles of banks in our dataset exhibit a forward-looking approach to loan loss provisioning both in the pre- and post-crisis period. From a policy perspective, the top quartile of banks in our sample is engaged in forward-looking loan loss provisioning. From an accounting stance, this may be suggestive of the largest banks being more engaged in earnings management and income smoothing than the smallest banks in our sample. However, from the banking regulation perspective, implementing forwardlooking loan loss provisioning is economically intuitive and will help build a countercyclical buffer, thereby strengthening bank balance sheets.
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