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Distance-to-Default in Banking; A Bridge Too Far?


  • Amadou N Sy
  • Jorge A Chan-Lau


In contrast to corporate defaults, regulators typically take a number of statutory actions to avoid the large fiscal costs associated with bank defaults. The distance-to-default, a widely used market-based measure of corporate default risk, ignores such regulatory actions. To overcome this limitation, this paper introduces the concept of distance-to-capital that accounts for pre-default regulatory actions such as those in a prompt-corrective-actions framework. We show that both risk measures can be analyzed using the same theoretical framework but differ depending on the level of capital adequacy thresholds and asset volatility. We also use the framework to illustrate pre-default regulatory actions in Japan in 2001-03.

Suggested Citation

  • Amadou N Sy & Jorge A Chan-Lau, 2006. "Distance-to-Default in Banking; A Bridge Too Far?," IMF Working Papers 06/215, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:06/215

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    1. Gropp, Reint & Vesala, Jukka & Vulpes, Giuseppe, 2006. "Equity and Bond Market Signals as Leading Indicators of Bank Fragility," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(2), pages 399-428, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. László Békési & Lorant Kaszab & Szabolcs Szentmihályi, 2017. "The EAGLE model for Hungary - a global perspective," MNB Working Papers 2017/7, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary).
    2. Koutsomanoli-Filippaki, Anastasia I. & Mamatzakis, Emmanuel C., 2011. "Efficiency under quantile regression: What is the relationship with risk in the EU banking industry?," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 84-95, May.
    3. Kimie Harada & Takatoshi Ito & Shuhei Takahashi, 2010. "Is the Distance to Default a Good Measure in Predicting Bank Failures? Case Studies," NBER Working Papers 16182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Saldías, Martín, 2013. "Systemic risk analysis using forward-looking Distance-to-Default series," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 498-517.
    5. Martin CIHAK, 2007. "Systemic Loss: A Measure of Financial Stability (in English)," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 57(1-2), pages 5-26, March.
    6. Winsen, Joseph K., 2010. "An overview of project finance binomial loan valuation," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 84-89, April.
    7. Kim Ristolainen, 2016. "The relationship between distance-to-default and CDS spreads as measures of default risk for European banks," Journal of Banking and Financial Economics, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 1(5), pages 121-143, June.
    8. Harada, Kimie & Ito, Takatoshi, 2011. "Did mergers help Japanese mega-banks avoid failure? Analysis of the distance to default of banks," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 1-22, March.
    9. Chan, Stephanie & Wijnbergen, Sweder, 2017. "CoCo Design, Risk Shifting Incentives and Financial Fragility," ECMI Papers 12166, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    10. Ignacio Tirado, 2017. "Banking Crises and the Japanese Legal Framework," IMES Discussion Paper Series 17-E-02, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
    11. Andre O Santos & Jorge A Chan-Lau, 2006. "Currency Mismatches and Corporate Default Risk; Modeling, Measurement, and Surveillance Applications," IMF Working Papers 06/269, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item


    Financial stability; Banks; Insolvency; closure; prompt corrective action; distance-to-default; distance-to-capital; capital adequacy; banking; capital adequacy ratio; bank capital; deposit insurance;

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