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Bank holding company dividends and repurchases during the financial crisis

Many large U.S. bank holding companies (BHCs) continued to pay dividends during the 2007-09 financial crisis, even as financial market conditions deteriorated, large losses accumulated, and emergency capital and liquidity were being provided by the official sector. In contrast, share repurchases by these BHCs dropped sharply in the early part of the crisis. Documenting this divergent behavior is one of the key contributions of this paper. The paper also examines the role that repurchases played in large BHCs’ decisions to reduce or eliminate dividends. The key findings are that smaller BHCs in the sample with higher levels of repurchases before the financial crisis reduced dividends later and by less than BHCs with lower pre‐crisis repurchases, suggesting that repurchases may have served as a cushion against cutting dividends. In contrast, there is only a weak relationship between pre‐crisis repurchases and the timing and extent of dividend reductions for the larger BHCs, even though these BHCs were more likely overall to reduce or eliminate dividends during the crisis.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 666.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2014
Date of revision: 01 Apr 2016
Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:666
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  1. Bessler, Wolfgang & Nohel, Tom, 2000. "Asymmetric information, dividend reductions, and contagion effects in bank stock returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(11), pages 1831-1848, November.
  2. Chinmoy Ghosh & J. Randall Woolridge, 1988. "An Analysis Of Shareholder Reaction To Dividend Cuts And Omissions," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 11(4), pages 281-294, December.
  3. Enrico Onali, 2012. "Moral hazard, dividends, and risk in banks," Working Papers 12001, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
  4. Allen Berger & Robert DeYoung & Mark Flannery & David Lee & Özde Öztekin, 2008. "How Do Large Banking Organizations Manage Their Capital Ratios?," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 34(2), pages 123-149, December.
  5. Alice Adams Bonaimé & Kristine Watson Hankins & Jarrad Harford, 2014. "Financial Flexibility, Risk Management, and Payout Choice," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 27(4), pages 1074-1101.
  6. Jagannathan, Murali & Stephens, Clifford P. & Weisbach, Michael S., 2000. "Financial flexibility and the choice between dividends and stock repurchases," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 355-384, September.
  7. Hirtle, Beverly, 2004. "Stock repurchases and bank holding company performance," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 28-57, January.
  8. Srivastav, Abhishek & Armitage, Seth & Hagendorff, Jens, 2014. "CEO inside debt holdings and risk-shifting: Evidence from bank payout policies," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 41-53.
  9. Chay, J.B. & Suh, Jungwon, 2009. "Payout policy and cash-flow uncertainty," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 88-107, July.
  10. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda & Stulz, Rene M., 2006. "Dividend policy and the earned/contributed capital mix: a test of the life-cycle theory," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 227-254, August.
  11. Clifford P. Stephens & Michael S. Weisbach, 1998. "Actual Share Reacquisitions in Open-Market Repurchase Programs," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(1), pages 313-333, 02.
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