Do Strict Capital Requirements Raise the Cost of Capital? Bank Regulation and the Low Risk Anomaly

59 Pages Posted: 12 May 2017

See all articles by Malcolm P. Baker

Malcolm P. Baker

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jeffrey Wurgler

NYU Stern School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 06, 2014

Abstract

Traditional capital structure theory in frictionless and efficient markets predicts that reducing banks’ leverage reduces the risk and cost of equity but does not change the overall weighted average cost of capital (and thus the rates for borrowers). We test these two predictions. We confirm that the equity of better-capitalized banks has lower beta and idiosyncratic risk. However, over the last 40 years, lower risk banks have higher stock returns on a risk-adjusted or even a raw basis, consistent with a stock market anomaly previously documented in other samples. The size of the low risk anomaly within banks suggests that the cost of capital effects of capital requirements is large enough to be relevant to policy discussions. A calibration assuming competitive lending markets suggests that a binding ten percentage-point increase in Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets more than doubles banks’ average risk premium over Treasury yields, from 40 to between 100 and 130 basis points per year, and presumably raises rates for borrowers to a similar extent.

Keywords: Banking, Bank, Capital Requirements, Leverage, Basel

Suggested Citation

Baker, Malcolm P. and Wurgler, Jeffrey A., Do Strict Capital Requirements Raise the Cost of Capital? Bank Regulation and the Low Risk Anomaly (October 06, 2014). NYU Working Paper No. 2451/38628. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2967265

Malcolm P. Baker (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6566 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/mbaker

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jeffrey A. Wurgler

NYU Stern School of Business ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street, Suite 9-190
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States
212-998-0367 (Phone)
212-995-4233 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/~jwurgler/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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