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What drives sovereign debt portfolios of banks in a crisis context?

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  • Lamas, Matías
  • Mencía, Javier

Abstract

We study determinants of sovereign portfolios of Spanish banks over a long time-span, starting in 2008. Our findings challenge the view that banks engaged in moral hazard strategies to exploit the regulatory treatment of sovereign exposures. In particular, we show that being a weakly capitalized bank is not related to higher holdings of domestic sovereign debt. While a strong link is present between central bank liquidity support and sovereign holdings, opportunistic strategies or reach-for-yield behavior appear to be limited to the non-domestic sovereign portfolio of well-capitalized banks, which might have taken advantage of their higher risk-bearing capacity to gain exposure (via central bank liquidity) to the set of riskier sovereign bonds. Furthermore, we document that financial fragmentation in EMU markets has played a key role in reshaping sovereign portfolios of banks. Overall, our results have important implications for the ongoing discussion on the optimal design of the risk-weighted capital framework of banks.

Suggested Citation

  • Lamas, Matías & Mencía, Javier, 2019. "What drives sovereign debt portfolios of banks in a crisis context?," ESRB Working Paper Series 88, European Systemic Risk Board.
  • Handle: RePEc:srk:srkwps:201988
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carlo Altavilla & Marco Pagano & Saverio Simonelli, 2017. "Bank Exposures and Sovereign Stress Transmission," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 21(6), pages 2103-2139.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    banks´ sovereign holdings; central bank liquidity; EMU financial fragmentation; moral hazard; sovereign crisis;

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • 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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