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Dividends and Bank Capital in the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009

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Listed:
  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Irvind Gujral
  • Nirupama Kulkarni
  • Hyun Song Shin

Abstract

The headline numbers appear to show that even as banks and financial intermediaries suffered large credit losses in the financial crisis of 2007-09, they raised substantial amounts of new capital, both from private investors and through government-funded capital injections. However, on closer inspection the composition of bank capital shifted radically from one based on common equity to that based on debt-like hybrid claims such as preferred equity and subordinated debt. The erosion of common equity was exacerbated by large scale payments of dividends, in spite of widely anticipated credit losses. Dividend payments represent a transfer from creditors (and potentially taxpayers) to equity holders in violation of the priority of debt over equity. The dwindling pool of common equity in the banking system may have been one reason for the continued reluctance by banks to lend over this period. We draw conclusions on how capital regulation may be reformed in light of our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Viral V. Acharya & Irvind Gujral & Nirupama Kulkarni & Hyun Song Shin, 2011. "Dividends and Bank Capital in the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009," NBER Working Papers 16896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16896
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
    3. Eric S. Rosengren, 2010. "Dividend policy and capital retention: a systemic “first response”," Speech 38, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    4. 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.
    5. Acharya, Viral V. & Schnabl, Philipp & Suarez, Gustavo, 2013. "Securitization without risk transfer," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 515-536.
    6. Viral V. Acharya & S. Viswanathan, 2011. "Leverage, Moral Hazard, and Liquidity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(1), pages 99-138, February.
    7. Viral V. Acharya & Hamid Mehran & Anjan V. Thakor, 2016. "Caught between Scylla and Charybdis? Regulating Bank Leverage When There Is Rent Seeking and Risk Shifting," Review of Corporate Finance Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 36-75.
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    10. Paul R. Masson, 2008. "Monetary Policy," Chapters, in: Amitava Krishna Dutt & Jaime Ros (ed.),International Handbook of Development Economics, Volumes 1 & 2, volume 0, chapter 54, Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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