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Loan loss reserves, accounting constraints, and bank ownership structure

  • Eliana Balla
  • Morgan J. Rose

This paper examines how the tightening of accounting constraints associated with the SunTrust bank decision in 1998 impacted the loan loss reserve policies of banks differently based on ownership structure. The SunTrust case, the result of an SEC inquiry over possible overstating of loan loss reserves, represented a strengthening of accounting priorities, which stress the importance of the reserve account for financial statement objectivity and comparability, relative to supervisory priorities, which emphasize the role of reserves for bank solvency through changing economic environments. The evidence presented indicates that publicly held banks, which fall directly under the SECs purview, reduced their loan loss reserve and provisions relative to privately held banks. Evidence also indicates that the positive relationship between bank earnings and provisions weakened, consistent with a reduction in either earnings management or early recognition of losses.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 11-09.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:11-09
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  1. Vincent Bouvatier & Laetitia Lepetit, 2006. "Banks' procyclicality behavior : does provisioning matter ?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00115622, HAL.
  2. Laeven, Luc & Majnoni, Giovanni, 2003. "Loan loss provisioning and economic slowdowns: too much, too late?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 178-197, April.
  3. Gunther, Jeffery W. & Moore, Robert R., 2003. "Loss underreporting and the auditing role of bank exams," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 153-177, April.
  4. John R. Walter, 1991. "Loan loss reserves," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Jul, pages 20-30.
  5. George J. Benston & Larry D. Wall, 2005. "How should banks account for loan losses?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q4, pages 19-38.
  6. Allen N. Berger & Gregory F. Udell, 2003. "The institutional memory hypothesis and the procyclicality of bank lending behavior," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Larry D. Wall & Timothy W. Koch, 2000. "Bank loan-loss accounting: a review of theoretical and empirical evidence," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q2, pages 1-20.
  8. Simon H. Kwan, 2004. "Risk and return of publicly held versus privately owned banks," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 97-107.
  9. Rajan, Raghuram G, 1994. "Why Bank Credit Policies Fluctuate: A Theory and Some Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 399-441, May.
  10. Foos, Daniel & Norden, Lars & Weber, Martin, 2010. "Loan growth and riskiness of banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2929-2940, December.
  11. Ahmed, Anwer S. & Takeda, Carolyn & Thomas, Shawn, 1999. "Bank loan loss provisions: a reexamination of capital management, earnings management and signaling effects," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-25, November.
  12. Adams, Brian & Carow, Kenneth A. & Perry, Tod, 2009. "Earnings management and initial public offerings: The case of the depository industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 2363-2372, December.
  13. Gunther, Jeffery W. & Moore, Robert R., 2003. "Early warning models in real time," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(10), pages 1979-2001, October.
  14. Holod, Dmytro & Peek, Joe, 2007. "Asymmetric information and liquidity constraints: A new test," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 2425-2451, August.
  15. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
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