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The Manipulation of Basel Risk-Weights. Evidence from 2007-10

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  • Mike Mariathasan
  • Ouarda Merrouche

Abstract

In this paper, we analyse a novel panel data set to compare the relevance of alternative measures of capitalisation for bank failure during the 2007-10 crisis, and to search for evidence of manipulated Basel risk-weights. Compared with the unweighted leverage ratio, we find the risk-weighted asset ratio to be a superior predictor of bank failure when banks operate under the Basel II regime, provided that the risk of a crisis is low. When the risk of a crisis is high, the unweighted leverage ratio is the more reliable predictor. However, when banks do not operate under Basel II rules, both ratios perform comparably, independent of the risk of a crisis. Furthermore, we find a strong decline in the risk-weighted asset ratio leading up to the crisis. Several empirical findings indicate that this decline is driven by the strategic use of internal risk models under the Basel II advanced approaches. Evidence of manipulation is stronger in less competitive banking systems, in banks with low initial levels of Tier 1 capital and in banks that adopted Basel II rules early. We find tangible common equity and Tier 1 ratios to be better predictors of bank distress than broader measures of capital, and identify market-based measures of capitalisation as poor indicators. We find no relationship between the probability of a bank being selected into a public recapitalisation plan and regulatory measures of capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Mike Mariathasan & Ouarda Merrouche, 2012. "The Manipulation of Basel Risk-Weights. Evidence from 2007-10," Economics Series Working Papers 621, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:621
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/12210/paper621.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Berger, Allen N. & Bouwman, Christa H.S., 2013. "How does capital affect bank performance during financial crises?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 146-176.
    2. Enrico Perotti & Lev Ratnovski & Razvan Vlahu, 2011. "Capital Regulation and Tail Risk," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 7(4), pages 123-163, December.
    3. Luc Laeven & Harry Huizinga, 2009. "Accounting discretion of banks during a financial crisis," IMF Working Papers 09/207, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Harald Hau & Sam Langfield & David Marques-Ibanez, 2013. "Bank ratings: what determines their quality?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, pages 289-333.
    5. Asli Demirguc‐Kunt & Enrica Detragiache & Ouarda Merrouche, 2013. "Bank Capital: Lessons from the Financial Crisis," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(6), pages 1147-1164, September.
    6. Mike Mariathasan & Ouarda Merrouche, 2012. "Recapitalization, credit and liquidity," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 27(72), pages 603-646, October.
    7. Acharya, Viral V. & Schnabl, Philipp & Suarez, Gustavo, 2013. "Securitization without risk transfer," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 515-536.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tümer Kapan & Camelia Minoiu, 2013. "Balance Sheet Strength and Bank Lending During the Global Financial Crisis," IMF Working Papers 13/102, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Bulow, Jeremy & Klemperer, Paul, 2013. "Market-Based Bank Capital Regulation," Research Papers 2132, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    3. Behn, Markus & Haselmann, Rainer & Vig, Vikrant, 2014. "Risk weights, lending, and financial stability: Limits to model-based capital regulation," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100430, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Banks; Basel risk-weights; Capital; Regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • 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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