Do Capital Requirements Make Banks Safer? Evidence from a Quasi-Natural Experiment

Denefa Bostandzic, Felix Irresberger, Ragnar Enger Juelsrud, and Gregor N. F. Weiss

We use the EBA capital exercise of 2011 as a quasi-natural experiment to investigate how capital requirements affect various measures of bank solvency risk. We show that, while regulatory measures of solvency improve, non-regulatory measures indicate a deterioration in bank solvency in response to higher capital requirements. The decline in bank solvency is driven by a permanent reduction in banks’ market value of equity. This finding is consistent with a reduction in bank profitability, rather than a repricing of bank equity due to a reduction of implicit and explicit too-big-too-fail guarantees. We then discuss alternative policies to improve bank solvency.