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Empirical Evidence on the Effectiveness of Capital Buffer Release

Sivec, Vasja and Volk, Matjaz and Chen, Yi-An (2018): Empirical Evidence on the Effectiveness of Capital Buffer Release.

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Abstract

With the new regulatory framework, known as Basel III, policymakers introduced a countercyclical capital buffer. It subjects banks to higher capital requirements in times of credit excess and is released in a financial crisis. This incentivizes banks to extend credit and to buffer losses. Due to its recent introduction empirical research on its effects are limited. We analyse a unique policy experiment to evaluate the effects of buffer release. In 2006, the Slovenian central bank introduced a temporary deduction item in capital calculation, creating an average capital buffer of 0.8% of risk weighted assets. It was released at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 and is akin to a release of a countercyclical capital buffer. We estimate its impact on bank behaviour. After its release, firms borrowing from banks holding 1 p.p. higher capital-buffer received 11 p.p. more in credit. Also we find the impact was greater for healthy firms, and it increased loan-loss provisioning for firms in default.

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