Completed Research Projects

1. Modelling deposit insurance losses under the Basel II framework

This project extends the existing literature on deposit insurance by proposing a new approach for the estimation of the loss distribution of a Deposit Insurance Scheme (DIS) that is based on the Basel 2 regulatory framework. In particular, we generate the distribution of banks’ losses following the Basel 2 theoretical approach and focus on the part of this distribution that is not covered by capital (tail risk). We also refine our approach by considering two major sources of systemic risks: the correlation between banks’ assets and interbank lending contagion. The application of our model to 2007 data for a sample of Italian banks shows that the target size of the Italian deposit insurance system covers up to 98.96% of its potential losses. Furthermore, it emerges that the introduction of bank contagion via the interbank lending market could lead to the collapse of the entire Italian banking system. Our analysis points out that the existing Italian deposit insurance system can be assessed as adequate only in normal times and not in poor market conditions with substantial contagion between banks. Overall, we argue that policy makers should explicitly consider the following when estimating DIS loss distributions: first, the regulatory framework within which banks operate such as (Basel 2) capital requirements; and, second, potential sources of systemic risk such as the correlation between banks’ assets and the risk of interbank contagion.

Published: Journal of Financial Services Research: December 2011, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 123-141. ABS ranking 3*; IF: 0.750.

2. The impact of European bank mergers on bidders default risk

We analyze the implications of European bank consolidation on the default risk of acquiring banks. For a sample of 134 bidding banks, we employ the Merton distance to default model to show that, on average, bank mergers are risk neutral. However, for relatively safe banks, mergers generate a significant increase in default risk. This result is particularly pronounced for cross-border and activity-diversifying deals as well as for deals completed under weak bank regulatory regimes. Also, large deals, which pose organizational and procedural hurdles, experience a merger-related increase in default risk. Our results cast doubt on the ability of bank merger activity to exert a risk-reducing and stabilizing effect on the European banking industry.

Published: Journal of Banking & Finance, Volume 35, Issue 4, April 2011, pp 902-915. ABS ranking 3*; IF: 2.600.

3. CEO pay incentives and risk taking: evidence form bank acquisitions

We analyze how the structure of executive compensation affects the risk choices made by bank CEOs. For a sample of acquiring U.S. banks, we employ the Merton distance to default model to show that CEOs with higher pay-risk sensitivity engage in risk-inducing mergers. Our findings are driven by two types of acquisitions: acquisitions completed during the last decade (after bank deregulation had expanded banks' risk-taking opportunities) and acquisitions completed by the largest banks in our sample (where shareholders benefit from ‘too big to fail’ support by regulators and gain most from shifting risk to other stakeholders). Our results control for CEO pay–performance sensitivity and offer evidence consistent with a causal link between financial stability and the risk-taking incentives embedded in the executive compensation contracts at banks.

Published: Journal of Corporate Finance, Volume 17, Issue 4, September 2011, pp 1078-1095. ABS ranking 3*; IF: 1.447.

4. Bank resilience to shocks and the stability of banking systems: small is beautiful

Utilising a novel empirical approach and an extensive sample of listed European banks, we identify which bank characteristics offer a shelter from systemic shocks and compare the relative effects of several hypothetical prudential rules on a bank’s risk exposure. While the results show that restrictions on a bank’s leverage ratio and the imposition of liquidity requirements, as in the Basel III Accord, may improve the resilience of a bank to systemic events, they also demonstrate that bank size, the share of non-interest income and asset growth (none of which are at the centre of the new regulatory landscape) are key determinants of a bank’s risk exposure. In particular, the introduction of a cap on bank absolute size appears the most effective tool, ceteris paribus, to reduce the default risk of a bank given systemic events. Furthermore, in spite of the integration process of the financial industry in Europe, the analysis presented here shows that such a cap should be country-specific with smaller economies requiring smaller banks. Finally, we show that the strengthening of individual bank stability obtained via size restrictions is accompanied by a reduction of the contribution to systemic risk for banks which are relatively large compared to the domestic economy.

Published: Journal of International Money and Finance: October 2012, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1745-1776. ABS ranking 3*; IF: 1.018.

5. Banking volatility across europe: a twenty year study

This project examines the trends and composition of volatility across European banking systems from January 1988 to December 2010. While there is no evidence of a long-term trend in the average level of banking system volatility, there is a change in its composition resulting from the growing importance of International and European nonfinancial components, especially in the largest banking systems. We argue that the changing composition of banking system volatility is the effect of a long-term integration process (with a growing importance of cross-border activities) that has not been influenced by the introduction of the Euro. Our results highlight the increasing vulnerability of the European banking systems to International and European shocks and an increasing likelihood of cross-border banking crises, and the need for regulatory reforms that focus on effective cross-border crisis management and resolution so as to safeguard the systemic stability of European banking in the near future.

Published: Journal of Financial Services Research: February 2013, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 37-68. ABS ranking 3*; IF: 0.750.

6. The risk sensitivity of capital requirements: evidence from international sample of large banks

Using an international sample of large banks between 2000 and 2010, we evaluate the risk sensitivity of minimum capital requirements. Our results show that risk-weighted assets (the regulatory measure of portfolio risk, which determines minimum capital requirements) are ill-calibrated to a market measure of bank portfolio risk. We show that this low-risk sensitivity of capital requirements permits banks to build up capital buffers by underreporting their portfolio risk and undermines banks’ ability to withstand adverse shocks. While the risk sensitivity of capital requirements is higher for banks that have adopted Basel II, it remains low across banks and countries.

Published: Review of Finance: Forthcoming. ABS ranking 3*; IF: 1.952.