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The "Greatest" Carry Trade Ever? Understanding Eurozone Bank Risks

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  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Sascha Steffen

Abstract

We show that Eurozone bank risks during 2007-2012 can be understood as a "carry trade" behavior. Bank equity returns load positively on peripheral (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy, or GIPSI) bond returns and negatively on German government bond returns, a position that generated "carry" until the deteriorating GIPSI bond returns inflicted losses on banks. The positive GIPSI loadings correlate with banks' holdings of GIPSI bonds; and, the negative German loading with banks' short-term debt exposures. Consistent with moral hazard in the form of risk-taking by large, under-capitalized banks to exploit government guarantees, arbitrage regulatory risk weights, and access central-bank funding, we find that this carry-trade behavior is stronger for large banks, and banks with low Tier 1 ratios and high risk-weighted assets, in both GIPSI and non-GIPSI countries' banks, but not so for similar banks in other Western economies or for non-bank firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Viral V. Acharya & Sascha Steffen, 2013. "The "Greatest" Carry Trade Ever? Understanding Eurozone Bank Risks," NBER Working Papers 19039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19039
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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