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Judging the risk of banks: what makes banks opaque?

  • Donald P. Morgan

We argue that the risk of banks is hard for outsiders to judge because the risk of their mostly financial assets is either hard to measure (opaque) or easy to change. We report evidence that bond rating agencies seem to disagree more over banks than over other types of firms. Among banks, bond raters disagree more over opaque assets, like loans, and easily substitutable assets, like cash and trading assets. Fixed assets, like premises, reduce disagreement. Capital also reduces disagreement, but only at trading banks, where the risk of asset shifting may be most severe.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Research Paper with number 9805.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednrp:9805
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  1. Stewart C. Myers & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1998. "The Paradox of Liquidity," CRSP working papers 339, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  2. Anil K Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 1994. "The Impact of Monetary Policy on Bank Balance Sheets," NBER Working Papers 4821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mark J. Flannery, 1991. "Debt maturity and the deadweight cost of leverage: optimally financing banking firms," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  4. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1990. "New Evidence on the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(1), pages 149-214.
  5. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  6. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  7. Edward J. Kane, 1997. "Ethical Foundations of Financial Regulation," NBER Working Papers 6020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
  9. Krasa, Stefan & Villamil, Anne P, 1992. "A Theory of Optimal Bank Size," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(4), pages 725-49, October.
  10. Jeremy C. Stein, 1998. "An Adverse-Selection Model of Bank Asset and Liability Management with Implications for the Transmission of Monetary Policy," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(3), pages 466-486, Autumn.
  11. Anil K Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 1997. "What Do a Million Banks Have to Say About the Transmission of Monetary Policy?," NBER Working Papers 6056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Richard Cantor & Frank Packer, 1994. "The credit rating industry," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sum, pages 1-26.
  13. James, Christopher, 1987. "Some evidence on the uniqueness of bank loans," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 217-235, December.
  14. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
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