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 1988 Basel I Accord set the common requirements of bank capital to promote the soundness and stability of the international banking system. The agreement required banks to hold capital in proportion to their perceived credit risks, and this requirement may have caused a “credit crunch,” a significant reduction in the supply of credit. We investigate the direct link between the implementation of the Basel I Accord and lending activities, using a data set spanning annual observations covering 1989–2004 for banks in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. The results provide clear support for a significant increase in credit growth following the implementation of capital regulations, in general. Despite higher capital adequacy ratios, banks expanded credit and asset growth. Credit growth appears to be driven by demand fluctuations attributed to real growth, cost of borrowing, and exchange rate risk. Overall, the effects of macroeconomic variables, in contrast to capital adequacy, appear to be more dominant in determining credit growth, regardless of the capital adequacy ratio, and regardless of variation across banks by nationality, ownership, and listing.