IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Determinants for using visible reserves in German banks: an empirical study


  • Bornemann, Sven
  • Homölle, Susanne
  • Hubensack, Carsten
  • Kick, Thomas
  • Pfingsten, Andreas


The German Commercial Code (HGB) allows banks to build visible reserves for general banking risks according to section 340g HGB. These GBR reserves may, in addition to their risk provisioning function, be used to enhance capital endowment, for internal financing, signaling or earnings management purposes. We analyze financial statements of German banks for the period from 1995 through 2007 to reveal specific patterns in the use of GBR reserves. Our empirical investigation is based on a large, unbalanced panel of German banks including 32,023 bank-year observations. We see an increase in the use of GBR reserves over time. Furthermore, we can say that GBR reserves are primarily used by large banks, banks with comparatively low regulatory capital endowment, as well as those with lower risks. Furthermore, GBR reserves are used by fairly profitable banks, those reporting according to international financial reporting standards in addition to HGB, and banks which are not thrifts or cooperative banks. Finally, we find that banks which make use of hidden reserves according to section 340f HGB also tend to hold GBR reserves. We explain our findings with regulatory factors and existing information asymmetries as well as banks' size and ownership structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Bornemann, Sven & Homölle, Susanne & Hubensack, Carsten & Kick, Thomas & Pfingsten, Andreas, 2009. "Determinants for using visible reserves in German banks: an empirical study," Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies 2009,11, Deutsche Bundesbank.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp2:200911

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grammatikos, Theoharry & Saunders, Anthony, 1990. "Additions to bank loan-loss reserves : Good news or bad news?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 289-304, March.
    2. Fonseca, Ana Rosa & González, Francisco, 2008. "Cross-country determinants of bank income smoothing by managing loan-loss provisions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 217-228, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Claudia M. Buch & Esteban Prieto, 2014. "Do Better Capitalized Banks Lend Less? Long-Run Panel Evidence from Germany," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 1-23, March.

    More about this item


    Bank regulation; informational asymmetries; risk provisioning; visible reserves; hidden reserves;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp2:200911. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.