Income Smoothing Over the Business Cycle: Changes in Banks' Coordinated Management of Provisions for Loan Losses and Loan Charge-Offs from the Pre-1990 Bust to the 1990s Boom
Posted: 31 Oct 2005
Prior research shows that during the pre-1990 bust financially weak banks managed income upward by delaying provisions for losses on heterogeneous loans. In contrast, we predict and find that during the 1990s boom profitable banks managed income downward by accelerating provisions for losses on homogeneous loans. Profitable banks obscured their income smoothing by accelerating charge-offs of homogeneous loans and by recording more gross charge-offs to offset recoveries of previously charged-off loans. Over the three years subsequent to the acceleration of charge-offs, they had higher and more persistent income before provisions for loan losses than other banks, consistent with income smoothing over a prolonged horizon.
Keywords: Income smoothing, business cycle, banks, provisions for loan losses, loan charge-offs
JEL Classification: G21, M41, M43
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