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Brazil's bank spread in international context : from macro to micro drivers

  • Jorgensen, Ole Hagen
  • Apostolou, Apostolos

In an international context, this paper analyzes the main drivers of Brazil's bank spreads measured by the net interest margin, by estimating internationally comparable measures for (i) institutional and regulatory (micro-) factors; (ii) macro-economic factors; and (iii) banking competition factors. The paper produces and applies a novel data set covering 197 areas and countries; ranging from 1995 to 2009, including 106 banks for Brazil and 16,434 banks worldwide. The analysis finds that micro-factors are the main drivers of spreads across the world. In the case of Brazil, the spread is found to be strongly accounted for by micro-factors -- also in international comparison. For example, micro-factors contributed 7.2 percentage points (79 percent) of the 11.5 percent total spread in Brazil in 2009, while macro-factors and banking competition factors jointly accounted for only 1.9 percentage points (21 percent). Conversely, Brazil does not rank high in international comparison in terms of macro-economic risk: Brazil and other countries from Latin America and the Caribbean are found to feature the highest micro-factors in the world while having the second-highest spreads and the second-lowest contribution of macro-factors. These unique findings suggest that countries striving toward reducing bank spreads should consider policies aimed at reducing microeconomic frictions in their banking sectors, in particular, (i) the economic costs of holding reserves, (ii) credit risk, and (iii) implicit interest payments. In terms of policy dialogue, this would be especially relevant for Brazil and for Latin American and Caribbean countries in general.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6611.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6611
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  1. Eduardo A. Cavallo & Patricio Valenzuela, 2007. "The Determinants of Corporate Risk in Emerging Markets: An Option-Adjusted Spread Analysis," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6845, Inter-American Development Bank.
  2. Levine, Ross, 1996. "Financial development and economic growth : views and agenda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1678, The World Bank.
  3. Ho, Thomas S. Y. & Saunders, Anthony, 1981. "The Determinants of Bank Interest Margins: Theory and Empirical Evidence," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(04), pages 581-600, November.
  4. Suhejla Hoti & Michael McAleer, 2004. "An Empirical Assessment of Country Risk Ratings and Associated Models," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 539-588, 09.
  5. Saunders, Anthony & Schumacher, Liliana, 2000. "The determinants of bank interest rate margins: an international study," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 813-832, December.
  6. Graciela Kaminsky & Sergio L. Schmukler, 2002. "Emerging Market Instability: Do Sovereign Ratings Affect Country Risk and Stock Returns?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 16(2), pages 171-195, August.
  7. Nelson Souza-Sobrinho, 2010. "Macroeconomics of bank interest spreads: evidence from Brazil," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-32, January.
  8. Guilherme Jonas Costa da Silva & José Luís Oreiro & Luiz Fernando de Paula, 2007. "Macroeconomic Determinants of Bank Spread in Brazil: An Empirical Evaluation," Working Papers 0066, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Department of Economics.
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