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Banking Regulation With Risk Of Sovereign Default

Author

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  • Pablo D'Erasmo

    ()

  • Igor Livshits
  • Koen Schoors

Abstract

Banking regulation routinely designates some assets as safe and thus does not require banks to hold any additional capital to protect against losses from these assets. A typical such safe asset is domestic government debt. There are numerous examples of banking regulation treating domestic government bonds as “safe,” even when there is clear risk of default on these bonds. We show, in a parsimonious model, that this failure to recognize the riskiness of government debt allows (and induces) domestic banks to “gamble” with depositors’ funds by purchasing risky government bonds (and assets closely correlated with them). A sovereign default in this environment then results in a banking crisis. Critically, we show that permitting banks to gamble this way lowers the cost of borrowing for the government. Thus, if the borrower and the regulator are the same entity (the government), that entity has an incentive to ignore the riskiness of the sovereign bonds. We present empirical evidence in support of the key mechanism we are highlighting, drawing on the experience of Russia in the run-up to its 1998 default and on the recent Eurozone debt crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Pablo D'Erasmo & Igor Livshits & Koen Schoors, 2019. "Banking Regulation With Risk Of Sovereign Default," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 19/964, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:19/964
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    File URL: http://wps-feb.ugent.be/Papers/wp_19_964.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Camilli & Marta Giagheddu, 2020. "Public debt and crowding-out: the role of housing wealth," Working Papers 441, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised May 2020.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Banking; Sovereign default; Prudential regulation; Financial crisis;

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

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