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The impact of sovereign credit risk on bank funding conditions

Panetta, Fabio and Correa, Ricardo and Davies, Michael and Di Cesare, Antonio and Marques, José-Manuel and Nadal de Simone, Francisco and Signoretti, Federico and Vespro, Cristina and Vildo, Siret and Wieland, Martin and Zaghini, Andrea (2011): The impact of sovereign credit risk on bank funding conditions.

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Abstract

The financial crisis and the ensuing recession have caused a sharp deterioration in public finances across advanced economies, raising investor concerns about sovereign risk. The concerns have so far mainly affected the euro area, where some countries have seen their credit ratings downgraded during 2009−11 and their funding costs rise sharply. Other countries have also been affected, but to a much lesser extent. Greater sovereign risk is already having adverse effects on banks and financial markets. Looking forward, sovereign risk concerns may affect a broad range of countries. In advanced economies, government debt levels are expected to rise over coming years, due to high fiscal deficits and rising pension and health care costs. In emerging economies, vulnerability to external shocks and political instability may have periodic adverse effects on sovereign risk. Overall, risk premia on government debt will likely be higher and more volatile than in the past. In some countries, sovereign debt has already lost its risk-free status; in others, it may do so in the future. The challenge for authorities is to minimise the negative consequences for bank funding and the flow-on effects on the real economy. This report outlines the impact of sovereign risk concerns on the cost and availability of bank funding over recent years. It then describes the channels through which sovereign risk affects bank funding. The last section summarises the main conclusions and discusses some implications for banks and the official sector. Two caveats are necessary before discussing the main findings. First, the analysis focuses on causality going from sovereigns to banks, as is already the case in some countries, and, looking forward, is a possible scenario for other economies. But causality may clearly also go from banks to sovereigns. However, even in this second case, sovereign risk eventually acquires its own dynamics and compounds the problems of the banking sector. Second, the report examines the link between sovereign risk and bank funding in general terms, based on recent experience and research. It does not assess actual sovereign risk and its impact on bank stability in individual countries at the present juncture.

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