The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The global financial crisis has highlighted the importance of early identification of weak banks: when problems are identified late, solutions are much more costly. Until recently, Europe has seen only a small number of outright bank failures, which made the estimation of early warning models for bank supervision very difficult. This paper presents a unique database of individual bank distress across the European Union from mid-1990s to 2008. Using this data set, we analyze the causes of banking distress in Europe. We identify a set of indicators and thresholds that can help to distinguish sound banks from those vulnerable to financial distress.