An Unexpected Crisis? Looking at Pricing Effectiveness of Different Banks

50 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2011 Last revised: 3 May 2013

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 12, 2011


This paper shows how credit quality transition matrices of loans to Italian firms changed during a cyclical downturn (2008-09), compared with a previous time of growth (2006-07). Once transition matrices were linked to interest rates, banks appear to have been remarkably able at calibrating required risk premiums to actual idiosyncratic risk, both during expansion and recession. However, the uncertainty generated by the crisis accentuated the unexpected component of credit worsening, thus lowering pricing effectiveness. The main finding is that larger banking groups were more affected by the sudden deterioration of credit quality than smaller ones, as far as ability to price risk is concerned. The bank-size effect can be tackled through an efficient use of hard or soft information: both rating users and decentralized banks showed an above-average ability in calibrating rates to risk during the crisis; banks with a stronger relationship with borrowers smoothed the risk-price curve in normal times.

Keywords: banking, crisis, credit migration, credit risk pricing

JEL Classification: G21, G01, E43, E32

Suggested Citation

Vacca, Valerio Paolo, An Unexpected Crisis? Looking at Pricing Effectiveness of Different Banks (July 12, 2011). Bank of Italy Temi di Discussione (Working Paper) No. 814, Available at SSRN: or

Valerio Paolo Vacca (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184

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