A Pyrrhic Victory? Bank Bailouts and Sovereign Credit Risk

62 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2011  

Viral V. Acharya

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Itamar Drechsler

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Philipp Schnabl

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2011

Abstract

We show that financial sector bailouts and sovereign credit risk are intimately linked. A bailout benefits the economy by ameliorating the under-investment problem of the financial sector. However, increasing taxation of the non-financial sector to fund the bailout may be inefficient since it weakens its incentive to invest, decreasing growth. Instead, the sovereign may choose to fund the bailout by diluting existing government bondholders, resulting in a deterioration of the sovereign's creditworthiness. This deterioration feeds back to the financial sector, reducing the value of its guarantees and existing bond holdings as well as increasing its sensitivity to future sovereign shocks. We provide empirical evidence for this two-way feedback between financial and sovereign credit risk using data on the credit default swaps (CDS) of the Eurozone countries and their banks for 2007-11. We show that the announcement of financial sector bailouts was associated with an immediate, unprecedented widening of sovereign CDS spreads and narrowing of bank CDS spreads; however, post-bailouts there emerged a significant co-movement between bank CDS and sovereign CDS, even after controlling for banks' equity performance, the latter being consistent with an effect of the quality of sovereign guarantees on bank credit risk.

Keywords: credit default swaps, deleveraging, financial crises, forbearance, growth, sovereign debt

JEL Classification: D62, E58, G21, G28, G38

Suggested Citation

Acharya, Viral V. and Drechsler, Itamar and Schnabl, Philipp, A Pyrrhic Victory? Bank Bailouts and Sovereign Credit Risk (December 2011). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8679. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1976021

Viral V. Acharya (Contact Author)

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~sternfin/vacharya/public_html/~vacharya.htm

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

Itamar Drechsler

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Philipp Schnabl

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~sternfin/pschnabl/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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