DP15009 Kicking the can down the road: government interventions in the European banking sector

Author(s): Viral V. Acharya, Maximilian Jager, Sascha Steffen, Lea Steinruecke
Publication Date: July 2020
Keyword(s): Bank Recapitalization, evergreening, fiscal constraints, Forbearance, political economy, sovereign debt crisis, zombie lending
JEL(s): E44, G21, G28, G32, G34
Programme Areas: Financial Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15009

We analyze the determinants and the long-run consequences of government interventions in the eurozone banking sector during the 2008/09 financial crisis. Using a novel and comprehensive dataset, we document that fiscally constrained governments "kicked the can down the road" by providing banks with guarantees instead of full-fledged recapitalizations. We adopt an econometric approach that addresses the endogeneity associated with governmental bailout decisions in identifying their consequences. We find that forbearance caused undercapitalized banks to shift their assets from loans to risky sovereign debt and engage in zombie lending, resulting in weaker credit supply, elevated risk in the banking sector, and, eventually, greater reliance on liquidity support from the European Central Bank.