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Banks, government bonds, and default: what do the data say?

We analyze holdings of public bonds by over 20,000 banks in 191 countries, and the role of these bonds in 20 sovereign defaults over 1998-2012. Banks hold many public bonds (on average 9% of their assets), particularly in less financially-developed countries. During sovereign defaults, exposure to public bonds increases, especially for large banks. At the bank level, bondholdings correlate negatively with subsequent lending during sovereign defaults. This correlation is mostly due to bonds acquired in pre-default years. These findings shed light on alternative theories of the sovereign default-banking crisis nexus.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1378.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
Date of revision: Nov 2014
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1378
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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