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Bank Capital and Uncertainty

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  • Fabian Valencia

Abstract

An important role for bank capital is that of a buffer against unexpected losses. As uncertainty about these losses increases, the theory predicts an increase in the optimal level of bank capital. This paper investigates this implication empirically with U.S. Commercial Banks data and finds statistically significant and robust evidence supporting it. A counterfactual experiment suggests that a decline in uncertainty to the lowest level measured in the sample generates an average reduction in bank capital ratios of slightly over 1 percentage point. However, I also find suggestive evidence that the intensity of this precautionary motive is stronger during recessions. From a policy perspective, these results suggest that the effectiveness of countercyclical capital requirements during bad times will be undermined by banks desire to hold more capital in response to increased uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabian Valencia, 2010. "Bank Capital and Uncertainty," IMF Working Papers 10/208, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:10/208
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    File URL: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=24199
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peura, Samu & Jokivuolle, Esa, 2004. "Simulation based stress tests of banks' regulatory capital adequacy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1801-1824, August.
    2. John Geanakoplos & Ana Fostel, 2008. "Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1211-1244, September.
    3. Shin, Hyun Song & Adrian, Tobias, 2008. "Financial intermediaries, financial stability and monetary policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 287-334.
    4. Fabian Valencia, 2008. "Banks’ Precautionary Capital and Persistent Credit Crunches," IMF Working Papers 08/248, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. von Furstenberg, George M., 2011. "Contingent capital to strengthen the private safety net for financial institutions: Cocos to the rescue?," Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies 2011,01, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    2. Coffinet, Jérôme & Coudert, Virginie & Pop, Adrian & Pouvelle, Cyril, 2012. "Two-way interplays between capital buffers and credit growth: Evidence from French banks," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 1110-1125.

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