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Sovereign Risk and Bank Risk-Taking

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  • Anil Ari

    (University of Cambridge)

Abstract

In European countries recently hit by a sovereign debt crisis, the share of domestic sovereign debt held by the national banking system has sharply increased, raising issues in their economic and financial resilience, as well as in policy design. This paper examines these issues by analyzing the banking equilibrium in a model with optimizing banks and depositors. To the extent that sovereign default causes bank losses also independently of their holding of domestic government bonds, undercapitalized banks have an incentive to gamble on these bonds. The optimal reaction by depositors to insolvency risk imposes discipline, but also leaves the economy susceptible to self-fulfilling shifts in sentiments, where sovereign default also causes a banking crisis. Policy interventions face a trade-off between alleviating funding constraints and strengthening incentives to gamble. Subsidized loans to banks, similar to the ECB's non-targeted longer-term refinancing operations (LTRO), may eliminate the good equilibrium when the banking sector is undercapitalized. Targeted interventions have the capacity to eliminate adverse equilibria.

Suggested Citation

  • Anil Ari, 2016. "Sovereign Risk and Bank Risk-Taking," 2016 Meeting Papers 676, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:676
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    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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