A Tale of Two Overhangs: The Nexus of Financial Sector and Sovereign Credit Risks
Financial Stability Review, No. 16, April 2012
6 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 2012
There has emerged in the Western economies a strong nexus between the credit risks of financial sectors and their sovereigns. We argue that this phenomenon can be understood in the context of two debt overhang problems: one affecting the financial sector due to its under-capitalization following the crisis of 2007-08; the second, affecting the non-financial sector, whose incentives are crowded out by high sovereign debt and anticipated future taxes. While the desire to resolve the financial sector overhang may make bailouts tempting, they raise the risk of exacerbating the overhang related to sovereign debt. Conversely, reduction of growth prospects due to sovereign debt overhang can make the financial sector riskier as it is highly exposed to sovereign debt both through direct holdings and indirectly through implicit government guarantees. We provide evidence on this important nexus, based on our ongoing research that exploits data on European bank and sovereign credit risks.
Keywords: Sovereign Debt, Financial Crisis, Bailouts, Debt Overhang, Credit Default Swaps
JEL Classification: G21, G28, G38, E58, D62
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation