The Recourse Rule, Regulatory Arbitrage, and the Financial Crisis

33 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017 Last revised: 5 Sep 2018

See all articles by Stephen Matteo Miller

Stephen Matteo Miller

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 21, 2018


In November 2001, regulators finalized the “Recourse Rule.” The rule lowered risk weights, and therefore commercial bank holding company capital requirements, to 0.2 for holdings of AAA- and AA-rated “private label” securitization tranches, created by investment banks and securitizing commercial bank holding company subsidiaries; risk weights for A-rated holdings equaled 0.5. The rule’s aim was to encourage securitization, but not risk-taking. Regulators indicated that the rule would apply to larger holding companies, without identifying them. Using bank holding companies with subsidiaries that commented on the proposed rule-makings as a treatment variable, average treatment effects from fully flexible difference-in-differences models indicate that treated banks increased their holdings of the highly rated tranches, relative to either total assets or book equity capital, while other holding companies, on average, did not. Holding companies with greater holdings of private label securitizations also experienced greater increases in risk after Q1 2008, but not before then.

Keywords: difference-in-differences, financial crisis, regulatory capital requirements, securitization, unintended consequences

JEL Classification: E02, F33, G01, G18, G28

Suggested Citation

Miller, Stephen Matteo, The Recourse Rule, Regulatory Arbitrage, and the Financial Crisis (August 21, 2018). Journal of Regulatory Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Stephen Matteo Miller (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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