We show that eurozone bank risks during 2007-2013 can be understood as “carry trade” behavior. Bank equity returns load positively on peripheral (Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, or GIIPS) bond returns and negatively on German government bond returns, which generated “carry” until the deteriorating GIIPS bond returns adversely affected bank balance sheets. We find support for risk-shifting and regulatory arbitrage motives at banks in that carry trade behavior is stronger for large banks and banks with low capital ratios and high risk-weighted assets. We also find evidence for home bias and moral suasion in the subsample of GIIPS banks.
–Viral V. Acharya† Sascha Steffen‡
We thank an anonymous referee, Jacob Boudoukh, Martin Brown, Filippo di Mauro, Ruediger Fahlenbrach, Mariassunta Giannetti, Paul Glasserman, Paul Heidhues, Martin Hellwig, Gur Huberman, Vasso Ioannidou, Anil Kashyap, Bryan Kelly, Jan-Pieter Krahnen, David Lesmond, Christian Leuz, Marco Pagano, Hélène Rey, Joerg Rocholl, Anthony Saunders, Phil Strahan, Anjan Thakor, Elu von Thadden, Lucy White, Andrew Winton and participants in the 2014 Moody’s / SAIF Credit Research Conference, 2014 Conference on Regulating Financial Intermediaries, 2013 SFS Cavalcade, 2013 NBER Summer Institute IFM, 2013 CAF Summer Research Conference, 2013 FIRS Conference, 12th annual FDIC / JFSR conference, 49th Bank Structure and Competition Conference, 2012 C.R.E.D.I.T., 2nd Mofir Ancona and seminar participants at Darden, Deutsche Bundesbank, ESMT, Goethe University, Indiana, Lancaster, Leeds, Mainz, Norges Bank, NYU Stern, Ohio State University, Osnabrueck, and Tulane for valuable comments and suggestions. We are grateful to Matteo Crosignani and Diane Pierret for excellent research assistance.
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