Bank Failures of the 1990s: An Exploratory Analysis

Matthias Beck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Past research has frequently attributed the incidence of bank failures to macroeconomic cycles and/or downturns in the regional economy. More recent analyses have suggested that the incidence and severity of bank failures can be linked to governance failures, which may be preventable through more stringent disclosure and auditing requirements. Using data on bank failures during the years 1991 to 1997, for the US, Canada, the UK and Germany, this study examines the relationship between institutional characteristics of national legal and auditing systems and the incidence of bank failures. In the second part of our analysis we then examined the relationship between the same institutional variables and the severity of bank failures.
The first part of our study notes a significant correlation between the law and order tradition (‘rule of law’) of a national legal system and the incidence of bank failures. Nations which were assigned high 'rule of law’ scores by country risk guides appear to have been less likely to experience bank failures. Another variable which appears to impact on bank failure rates is the ‘risk of contract repudiation’. Countries with a greater ‘risk of contract repudiation’ appear to be more likely to experience bank failures. We suggest that this may be due to a greater ex ante protection of stakeholders in countries where contract enforcement is more stringent.
The results of the second part of our study are less clear cut. However, there appears to be a significant correlation between the amount paid out by national deposit insurers (our proxy for the severity of bank failures) and the macroeconomic variable 'GDP change'. Here our findings follow the conventional wisdom; with greater amounts of deposit insurance funds being paid during economic downturns (i.e. low or negative GDP 'growth' correlates with high amounts of deposit insurance being paid out). A less pronounced relationship with the severity of bank failures can also be established for the institutional variables ' accounting standards' as well as 'risk of contract repudiation'. Countries with more stringent ‘accounting standards’ and a low ‘risk of contract repudiation’ appear to have been less prone to severe bank failures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding RIsk
Subtitle of host publicationRecent Contributions from the Journal of Risk and Governance
EditorsMatthias Beck
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Pages91-106
ISBN (Print)978-1-62808-946-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Risk management
  • Financial risk
  • Risk
  • Corporate governance

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