Friend or Foe? Cross-Border Linkages, Contagious Banking Crises, and 'Coordinated' Macroprudential Policies
  • 1 0000000404811396https://isni.org/isni/0000000404811396International Monetary Fund

Contributor Notes

Author’s E-Mail Address: schoi@imf.org, lkodres@imf.org, jlu@imf.org

This paper examines whether the coordinated use of macroprudential policies can help lessen the incidence of banking crises. It is well-known that rapid domestic credit growth and house price growth positively influence the chances of a banking crisis. As well, a crisis in other countries with high trade and financial linkages raises the crisis probability. However, whether such “contagion effects” can operate to reduce crisis probabilities when highly linked countries execute macroprudential policies together has not been fully explored. A dataset documenting countries’ use of macroprudential tools suggests that a “coordinated” implementation of macroprudential policies across highly-linked countries can help to stem the risks of widespread banking crises, although this positive effect may take some time to materialize.

Abstract

This paper examines whether the coordinated use of macroprudential policies can help lessen the incidence of banking crises. It is well-known that rapid domestic credit growth and house price growth positively influence the chances of a banking crisis. As well, a crisis in other countries with high trade and financial linkages raises the crisis probability. However, whether such “contagion effects” can operate to reduce crisis probabilities when highly linked countries execute macroprudential policies together has not been fully explored. A dataset documenting countries’ use of macroprudential tools suggests that a “coordinated” implementation of macroprudential policies across highly-linked countries can help to stem the risks of widespread banking crises, although this positive effect may take some time to materialize.

I. Introduction

The holy grail search for reliable precursors of financial crises continues unabated following the global financial crisis. Despite the large literature on contagion and the role of spillovers, the question of how much trade and financial linkages matter quantitatively for the predictability of a financial crisis remains relatively unexplored. More importantly, and despite calls from international bodies for coordinated use of macroprudential policies, there is nearly no empirical evidence that such coordination would help to alleviate the chances of a banking crisis. This paper attempts to fill this gap by first verifying the extent to which trade and financial linkages contribute to the probability of a banking crisis and then by showing that the joint use of macroprudential policies by these partners can indeed lower the incidence of crises.

To begin, the paper examines how the marginal contributions from domestic determinants diminish with the introduction of contagion-type variables, verifying that contagion is an important component of financial crises. Then, as an intermediate step, using a dataset on the use of macroprudential tools, including caps on loan-to-value (LTV) and debt-to-income (DTI) ratios, we examine how real credit growth and real house price growth (two precursors to crises) evolve when these tools are employed. We then connect “coordinated” or simultaneous use of such macroprudential tools across highly-connected partners to the probability of a banking crisis. The result suggests there tends to be a positive role for coordination (although it may take some time to be effective), contributing to ongoing discussions within global policymaking circles about spillovers and leakages of macroprudential policies.

The formal recognition that cross-country financial linkages were important in the spread of crises has its root in the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. Following this crisis, a spate of studies showed how investors altered their global portfolio decisions in ways that led to capital flows in excess of what would be justified from domestic economic fundamentals.2 Hence, even countries with relatively positive economic prospects found themselves subject to rapid and destabilizing capital outflows. Alternatively in a financially integrated world, if a country is hit by a banking crisis, international loan providers to that country could be exposed to credit risks, through which the crisis could spread to banks in other countries. Also, banks could proactively pull funds out of the countries that are considered to have similar characteristics or are closely linked to the crisis country. (See Espinosa-Vega and Solé (2010).) Trade linkages have also been examined as a precursor to crises, but their predictive power has been less strongly linked to banking crises than financial linkages (Van Rijckeghem and Weder, 2001).3 See, also, IMF (2013) on financial and trade linkages which amplify the effects of financial shocks.

We use these insights regarding trade and financial linkages to verify their role as early warnings of the probability of future crises. Building on the literature that illustrates the importance of rapid credit growth and house price growth in estimating the likelihood of banking crises, we add variables that measure actual trade and financial linkages. For trade linkages, we use bilateral data from the IMF’s Direction of Trade Statistics (DOTS). For financial linkages, we use bilateral data from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) on cross-border bank claims.

Our regression results confirm that a banking crisis in major partner countries increases the domestic crisis probability even after controlling for domestic determinants, such as real credit growth and real house price growth.4 Table 1 (based on Table 3’s specification (2) to be discussed later) illustrates that crises are contagious—the crisis probability increases substantially if at least one partner country is in crisis. 5 Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the size of this contagion effect appears disproportionately larger when the country’s own vulnerabilities are relatively high. That is, a top-10 trade partner that is in crisis raises the crisis probability of its partner country at a median level of real credit growth (0.9 percent per year) and real house price growth (1.8 percent) from 1 percent to 14 percent. If the domestic economy is in the top 5th percentile of the distribution of the credit growth (9.2 percent) and real house price growth (19.6 percent), then the impact from a trade partner’s crisis is even greater—going from about a 2-percent to an 18-percent crisis probability. With financial linkages, the increases are also large.

Table 1.

Probability of a Banking Crisis according to Partner Crises

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Table 2.

Numbers of Trade Partners and Loan Recipients Experiencing a Banking Crisis

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Sources: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, BIS Consolidated Banking data, and financial crises identified in Laven and Valencia (2014). Annual data, 1970-2014.
Table 3.

Panel Logit Estimation Impact on Crises Experienced in Trade Partners and Loan Recipients on Domestic Crisis Probabilities

Dependent variable: Dummy indicating a banking crisis.

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Note: All banking crisis years except the start year are eliminated from the sample. Fixed effects estimates are only undertaken for countries with at least one year of a banking crisis. Standard errors in parentheses. ***: Significant at 1% confidence level. **: 5% level. *: 10% level.

In addition to quantifying the magnitude of the impact of partner crises, this paper’s main contribution is to show the potential usefulness of coordinated macroprudential policies. To date, most of the literature on macroprudential policies focuses on the effectiveness on domestic objectives, such as (i) increasing the resilience of the domestic financial system to aggregate shocks by building and releasing buffers, (ii) containing the build-up of domestic systemic vulnerabilities, for example, by reducing procyclical feedback between credit and asset prices, and (iii) controlling structural vulnerabilities within the domestic financial system that arise through interlinkages of individual intermediaries. See, for example, IMF-FSB-BIS (2016). This paper aims to understand whether containing the build-up of vulnerabilities in partner countries (through their use of macroprudential tools) can improve resilience domestically.

The result that contagion effects are sizable is an important intermediate step to provide for a role for coordinated macroprudential policies across highly-linked countries to stem the risks of widespread banking crises. The notion is that if macroprudential policies used in country A reduce the crisis probability in country A, then this reduction will lower the probability of crisis in a partner country B. Our results suggest that tightening in partner countries can lower real credit growth and real house price growth (at least in some specifications of the model). Beyond dampening these intermediate targets of macroprudential policies, we also find evidence that tightening in partner countries affects the probability of a banking crisis even after controlling for credit growth and real house price growth. Interestingly, the timing of effects can sometimes differ (depending on the specification) whereby a tightening in partner countries may initially increase the crisis probability, but later reduce it. As discussed below, country A’s tightening decision could be the result of more vulnerable global financial conditions, which may continue to affect country B’s crisis probability in the short run. Alternatively, country A’s banks could replace their lower lending in country A by lending more in country B (sometimes referred to as a “spillover” or “leakage” of macroprudential policies).

The paper is organized as follows. We first summarize how the paper fits within the related literature on banking crisis, contagion, and the effectiveness of macroprudential policies, in Section II. Then we discuss the data for the variables used in the model in Section III. Details about the data are in Appendix I. Section IV provides the main results without the use of macroprudential tools. Section V connects the macroprudential tools first with the precursors of crises—namely credit growth and house price growth—and then directly connects the crisis probabilities to partners’ use of macroprudential policies. The final section concludes with some guidance for financial stability policymakers and some ideas for future investigations.

II. Literature Review

Our paper is related to the literature on crisis prediction, contagion and spillovers, and the effectiveness of macroprudential policies. Early work on crisis prediction followed the Mexican crisis of 1994 and then grew with the onset of the Asian crisis in the late 1990s.6 Indeed, this crisis spawned a large literature on the use of domestic economic variables to predict currency crises in emerging economies, but also began to explore financial fundamentals and some measures of cross-country contagion (including their linkages to advanced economies). Both trade and financial linkages were examined, with most findings indicating that financial linkages were relatively more important.7 For the most part, these models focused on balance of payments crises (current account reversals) and currency crises in emerging market countries.

Crisis prediction models have also examined banking crises, again starting from a domestic context and predominately using domestic banking sector variables.8 More recently, the banking crisis literature and the balance of payments crisis literature have both begun to incorporate various measures of interconnectedness, ranging from (direct) common creditors to more statistical measures of interconnectedness. Some cases, such as Minoiu, et al. (2014), use both actual connections alongside statistical techniques to measure the strength of potential contagion.9

Our paper attempts to link banking crisis prediction models with actual measures of interconnectedness (see Figure 1). It takes as a starting point the now-common approach using real credit growth and real house price growth. We follow Arregui, et al. (2013) in which a panel logit model is estimated for 30 countries from 1970 to 2010. Their results suggest that the interaction between high credit growth and rapid real house price growth is more important whenever the change in credit-to-GDP ratio is above a 3 percent threshold. They find that rapid credit growth combined with a housing boom is more dangerous than either alone. We add other domestic banking sector variables and the extent to which important trade and financial partner countries are also embroiled in a banking crisis.10

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Illustrated Goal of This Paper

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2018, 009; 10.5089/9781484338476.001.A001

This paper is also related to the fast-growing literature of spillovers, both the negative spillovers of crises, but more recently, and the possibility of spillovers resulting from macroprudential policies themselves.

On crisis spillovers, our paper is mostly aligned with papers that use actual data on interlinkages, rather than those relying on market data and implicit interlinkages. For instance, network models, such as Espinosa-Vega and Solé (2010), typically consider spillovers based on actual bilateral exposures.11 Their paper utilizes the BIS banking data to simulate the transmission of a country’s banking system “failure” to other countries’ banking systems as a result of an explicit (predetermined) interbank credit or funding shock.

The effectivenss of domestic macroprudential policies on domestic financial sector indicators and domestic crisis probabilities has been studied in Buch and Goldberg (2017), Akinci and Olmstead-Rumsey (2015), Arregui, et al. (2013), and IMF (2014). However, a smaller number of studies focused on the impact of foreign macroprudential policies. As regards the growing literature on unintended consequences (such as leakages, spillovers, or evasion) of macroprudential policies on other economies, our paper supports some (but not all) of the work done to date. Most of this literature examines the impact of macroprudential policies on (bank-issued) credit growth in domestic and foreign countries, but not on the probability of a banking crisis. See Kang et al. (2017) for several methods to examine such spillovers. For example, Cerutti, Claessens and Laeven (2017) examine what happens to country B when country A tightens and finds that, in some cases, international banks re-position their market shares by decreasing lending in country A but increasing it in country B. This channel suggests that country A’s macroprudential tightening could have a “loosening” impact on country B—particularly when country A is a more open economy. Work encompassed by Buch and Goldberg (2017) across a number of countries so far suggests the empirical size of this “spillover” channel to credit growth depends on a number of factors: for instance, balance sheet conditions of banks, such as the amount of capital, and their business models as well as the type of macroprudential policy employed. Our paper’s results generally suggest that negative spillovers are offset by the overall positive externalities at macro level – Country A’s crisis probability decreases, which benefits Country B. However, when (domestic) non-deposit funding is included as a control variable in our logit model, the results initially show an increase in the crisis probability within one year, but a diminution the following year.

III. The Data

The extant literature on banking crises uses various definitions of a crisis. We adopt the Laeven and Valencia (2014) definition under which a (systemic) banking crisis is defined in reference to a large number of defaults in corporate and financial sectors with great overall difficulties repaying contracts. The crisis can be accompanied by bank runs, losses in the banking system, bank liquidations, and significant banking policy interventions. Applying this definition results in an annual binary banking crisis variable, Yi,t, where 1 signifies a crisis in country i in year t. Only the initial year of the crisis is marked as a value of 1 and all directly subsequent years are excluded from the analysis although a given country can experience more than one banking crisis as long as they recover from an earlier one.12 These data for 120 countries from 1970 to 2014 comprise our dependent variable.

Important variables include credit growth and house price growth. To proxy for the former variable, we use the change in credit-to-GDP ratio defined as private sector credit divided by nominal GDP, where the former is obtained from the IMF’s International Financial Statistics (IFS) and the latter from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook database. To proxy for the latter, we obtain the real house price data from the IMF Real Estate Markets Module and compute the growth rate. Importantly, the credit data incorporate non-bank forms of credit (if observations are available) since credit growth outside the banking system is often the catalyst for a banking crisis.

The construction of the linkage variables are meant to capture trade linkages (reflecting aggregate demand effects) and financial linkages (reflecting credit supply channels). The bilateral trade data are extracted from the IMF’s Direction of Trade Statistics (DOTS), which provide bilateral trade (both imports and exports) in U.S. dollars. We use the sum of imports and exports to identify top ten trade partners.13

For financial linkages, we identify top-10 loan recipients for a given country14, capturing credit risks, using bilateral claims from the BIS consolidated banking statistics.15 There are several measures on financial linkages provided by the BIS. We use the immediate counterparty basis, as opposed to the ultimate risk basis. Using the immediate counterparty basis, a loan from, say, Credit Suisse’s subsidiary in London to a Unicredit’s subsidiary in London would be viewed as a loan from Switzerland to the United Kingdom. In the ultimate risk basis, where all the loans are consolidated on the parent’s balance sheet, this loan would be viewed as a loan from Switzerland to Italy. Both types of data consolidate the exposures of the lenders’ foreign offices (i.e., subsidiaries and branches) into the lenders’ head office, but they treat the borrowers’ location differently. See Appendix I for more detail. In using the immediate counterparty basis, we construct net total claims for all banks for 20 reporting countries (with 128 counterparty countries) in the BIS database.

For both the trade and financial linkage data, we examine the top-10 trade partners and top 10 loan recipients for country i and count how many of them are experiencing a banking crisis at year t. This variable is then used to measure the extent to which contagion across borders could influence the probability of a crisis in country i. Not surprisingly, the correlation between the two contagion measures is high, most likely because international banks are well-known for following their domestic corporate customers abroad and hence top trade partners are more likely to be financial partners and vice versa. Table 2 below aptly demonstrates this point during crisis times.

IV. Influence of Crises Experienced in Trade Partners and Loan Recipients

We estimate a pooled logit model of the form:

(1)Pr(yi,t=1|xi,th,zi,th)=Φ(αi+xi,thθ+zi,thβ)

where, yi,t is the crisis dummy variable for country i at year t, xi,t-h is a vector of independent variables for country i at year t-h where h is the number of lags; zi,t-h is a vector of the measure of contagion for country i at year t-h; and α, β, and θ are (vectors of) parameters to be estimated. Also, Φ refers to the cumulative probability density of the logistic distribution. In order to obtain crisis probabilities, the following transformation (which represents the logistic probability distribution) is used:

(2)Pr^(yi,t=1|xi,th,zi,th)=exp(αi+xi,thθ+zi,thβ)1+exp(αi+xi,thθ+zi,thβ).

Our baseline model follows Arregui, et al. (2013) by including the lagged change in credit-to-GDP ratio, i.e., Δ(Credit/GDP)t-1, and the lagged real house price growth, i.e., Δ(log(Real House Price))t-1. Other explanatory variables, such as lagged capital adequacy ratio, non-performing loans as a ratio of total loans, and the rate of return on assets are also considered as robustness checks.16 We then add a new “contagion” variable measuring the number of top-10 trade or financial partners experiencing a crisis, lagged one year. We perform both a logit estimation with and without fixed effects. The fixed effects model will attempt to purge the results of country-specific characteristics. These characteristics include institutional or legal ones that make one country more likely to experience a banking crisis than another.

Table 3 shows the results of the estimation with the trade and banking contagion variables. In the pooled regression (Part (A)), without the additional contagion variable, credit growth (as measued by the change in credit-to-GDP ratio) is statistically significant at 5 percent level while the lagged real house price growth is insignificant (model (1)). Adding the dummy variable indicating any of top-10 trade partner countries experiencing a crisis at t-1 shows that this variable is highly significant (at the 1 percent level) (model (2)). When the model is run with fixed effects to account for country specific factors (Part (B)), the coefficient on the trade contagion variable remains highly significant. Similarly, the banking contagion variable is highly significant when added to the model with credit growth and house price growth (model (3), both Parts (A) and (B)).17 Indeed, in this case the dangers of (own country’s) high credit growth are even more apparent as the coefficient increases in value and is even more statistically precise.18 While we should expect that a credit boom might well be accompanied by cross-border banking inflows, the fact that each variable remains significant in this case suggests that they are independently predictive.

We also introduce an interactive term in addition to the baseline explanatory variables (models (4) and (5)). To be specific, this interactive term is a dummy variable that is 1 if any of the top-10 partner countries is experiencing a banking crisis at t-1 and 0 otherwise, multiplied by each of the two baseline explanatory variables, real credit growth and real house price growth. For trade partners (model (4)), the estimation result suggests that the coefficients for the two new explanatory variables are highly significant in the pooled regression and significant for the interactive credit variable in the fixed effects model.19 This suggests that having rapid domestic credit growth and house price growth when trade partner countries are in crisis is much more likely to precipitate a crisis than if the overheating credit and housing markets are purely domestic events. For loan recipients (model (5)), the interactive term between credit growth and the dummy variable is large and highly significant. On the other hand, the interactive term between house price growth and the dummy variable is not statistically significant, possibly because credit growth overwhelms any effect that house price growth may have.

The results so far mostly hold when control variables—capital adequacy ratio, return on assets, and nonperforming loans ratio—are added (models (1’) -(5’)). In addition, applying the country fixed effect (Part (B)) does not change the main contagion result (although models (3’) and (5’) do not have enough variation in the data to estimate the model).20,21

Figure 2 illustrates the probability (in percent) of experiencing a crisis using the coefficient estimates from Table 3A (model (4) in the pooled regression). The figure is constructed for various levels of real credit growth and real house price growth when only domestic real credit and house price growth are considered (Table 3A model (1)) and comparing it to when at least one top-10 trading partner is in a banking crisis.22 Overall, the probabilities of a domestic crisis (the left-hand figure) are all fairly low (less than 6 percent per year) and depend on both the change in the credit-to-GDP ratio and real house price growth. By contrast, once the extent of banking crises in one of the ten most highly connected trade partners is taken into account, the highest probability rises to around 26 percent. Moreover, the probability rises non-linearly. In other words, when trade partners are in crisis, the overall level of the crisis probability increases, and in addition, the marginal impact of the explanatory variables becomes larger.

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Illustration of the Estimated Crisis Probability

(Based on models (1) and (4) of Table 3 (A))

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2018, 009; 10.5089/9781484338476.001.A001

V. Influence of Macroprudential Policies in Trade Partners and Loan Recipients

A. Preliminaries

It is natural to conjecture that, given statistically significant contagion effects, sound macroprudential policy adopted in partner countries would decrease the probability of a domestic banking crisis. In order to determine whether this conjecture is empirically supported, we first investigate how two financial sector indicators—real credit growth and real house price growth—tend to evolve around the tightening or loosening of a top-10 partner’s macroprudential tools. 23 Then we proceed to look directly at whether the use of macroprudential policies in partner countries lowers a country’s own crisis probability (based on logit models) in the following subsections.

The data on macroprudential tightening are based on Tables B1 and B2 in Akinci and Olmstead-Rumsey (2015). These tables provide information on the tightening or loosening of each of the nine macroprudential tools in a given quarter of the year for a number of countries.24 In our analysis, we define a discrete value, “macroprudential tightening/loosening indicator,” which is equal to one (+1) when a country tightened at least one of the nine macroprudential tools, minus one (-1) when it loosened any of them, and zero (0) otherwise, in each quarter. Then, the annual observations are created by summing up the four quarters of the year. (See Appendix I.) For example, if an economy tightened twice and loosened once over a year, the annual observation for this indicator will be one. If a country tightened in one quarter and loosened in another within a specific year, we assign a value of zero. Then, for a given country, a top-10 partners’ macroprudential “impulse” is defined as the sum of “macroprudential tightening/loosening indicator” for these partners. Hence, the partners’ impulse can be up to the value of ten (+10) if all top-10 partners are tightening and down to the value of minus ten (-10) if all top-10 partners are loosening.

Figure 3 illustrates the evolution of the credit-to-GDP ratios and real house prices around the year in which the impulse is positive. The tightening of any of top-10 partners (i.e., a positive impulse) seems to be associated with a slowdown in real house price growth in the domestic economy, although there seems to be only a marginal impact on credit growth. In general, this supports the conjecture that tightening macroprudential policies can affect the financial sector of its trade and banking partners’ domestic economies.

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Financial Sector Indicators around Top-10 Partners’ Macroprudential Tightening

(Year 0: Positive partners’ macroprudential impulse)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2018, 009; 10.5089/9781484338476.001.A001

Solid line: Median. Dotted lines: 25 and 75 percentiles. Normalized to 100 at year 0.

We next examine whether the tightening of one or more top-10 trade partners matters when it is executed in addition to a domestic tightening of macroprudential policies. Figure 4 illustrates the evolution of the credit-to-GDP ratios and real house prices around domestic tightening with and without one or more tightenings of the top-10 trade partners (i.e., when the impulse is positive and when it is not). The results suggest that both credit growth and house price growth appear to slow down (or even fall in the case of the latter) when both the domestic authorities and at least one partner employ tightening policies simultaneously.25 This suggests that foreign macroprudential policies could play an important role in domestic evolution of financial sector indicators by reinforcing (or even superceding) domestic macroprudential policies. 26

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Domestic Macroprudential Tightening with and without the Tightening of One or More of Top-10 Trade Partners

(Year 0: Domestic Tightening)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2018, 009; 10.5089/9781484338476.001.A001

Solid line: Median. Dotted lines: 25 and 75 percentiles. Normalized to 100 at year 0.

B. Influence of Macroprudential Policies in Partners on Domestic Credit Growth and House Price Growth

We proceed to examine the impact of “coordinated” or simultaneous macroprudential tightenings first on these intermediate target variables (in this subsection) and then on the crisis probabilities themselves (in the next subsection).27 We report the results based on pooled regression, fixed-effects panel regression, and Arellano-Bond (1991) GMM estimation (which is to help mitigate endogeneity issues).28

  • In Table 4 (Part (A)), real credit growth at year t slows when at least one of the top-10 trade partners tightens macroprudential policies within the same year, even after controlling for real GDP growth, lagged real credit growth, and other domestic banking variables. This occurs regardless of the econometric methodology used.29 Interestingly the country’s own tightening of macroprudential policies does not have a statistically significant effect on real credit growth.

  • According to Table 4 (Part (B)), the effect of macroprudential policies on real house price growth is present, but requires time to manifest itself. Both an own-country tightening and a trade partner’s tightening statistically significantly lower domestic house price growth after one year for the pooled regression while the trade partners tightening matters regardless of the econometric technique.30

  • To summarize, macroprudential tightening in trade partners affects real domestic credit growth as well as, in some specifications, real house price growth.

Table 4.

Impact of Domestic and Top-10 Trade Partners’ Macroprudential Tightening on Financial Sector Indicators

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Note: Standard errors in parentheses. ***: Significant at 1% confidence level. **: 5% level. *: 10% level.

Table 5 evaluates the use of macroprudential policies by loan recipient countries (as opposed to trade partners).

  • Across all three methods, simultaneous tightening by at least one of the top-10 loan recipients lowers real credit growth, even when an “own” tightening is ineffective and other control factors are accounted for (Table 5, Part (A)).31 Lagged tightening by financial partners also lowers real credit growth (except for the fixed-effect regression).

  • For real house price growth, only in the pooled regression technique does the common usage of macroprudential tools by financial partners’ lower house price growth in 10 percent level (Table 5, Part (B)).32 Indeed, domestic use of such tools within the same year appears to have the opposite of their intended affect (raising house prices) perhaps because the authorities are just initially attempting to reign in the housing market. Such tools could take a bit longer to be effective given the inertia in house prices generally.

Table 5.

Impact of Domestic and Top-10 Loan Recipients’ Macroprudential Tightening on Financial Sector Indicators

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Note: Standard errors in parentheses. ***: Significant at 1% confidence level. **: 5% level. *: 10% level.

C. Influence of Macroprudential Policies in Partners on Domestic Crisis Probabilities

Intermediate target variables of macroprudential policies—real credit growth and real house price growth—tend to be affected by coordinated tightening in several specifications. Indeed, credit growth and house price growth are not cause for concern in and of themselves, but only when they are unsustainble and lead to financial sector weaknesses. Hence, we examine the effect of sole and “coordinated” macroprudential policies on the crisis probability.

Table 6 shows that, even after controlling for the lagged domestic credit growth and real house price growth, the probability of a domestic banking crisis decreases after two years when top-10 partners are tightening their own macroprudential policies (statistically significant at 10 percent level in several specifications). Interestingly, partner tightening is often associated with an increase in domestic crisis probabilities within one year following the impulse (although further associated with a decrease in probabilities two years hence). This may reflect the fact that the sample size involving macroprudential tools is limited. Many countries in the sample experienced a crisis in 2008 and, as well, many countries tightened macroprudential policies in 2007. The materialization of the 2008 crisis following this broad tightening could show up as a negative relationsip between partner tighening and domestic crisis probabilities. Indeed, if a 2008 dummy is included as an additional explanatory variable in these specifications, this positive relationship with one year lag is no longer statistically significant at 10 percent level (See Parts (A) and (B) of Table B2 in Appendix II).

Table 6.

Impact of Domestic and Top-10 Partners’ Macroprudential Tightening on Crisis Probabilities

Dependent variable: Dummy indicating a banking crisis.

(Pooled Regression, 2000-2012)

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Note: Standard errors in parentheses. ***: Significant at 1% confidence level. **: 5% level. *: 10% level.

Another possibility is that the result reflects “leakages” of macroprudential policies to other economies (see also Section II). That is, tightening in partner countries could initially increase the domestic crisis probability through leakages (i.e., reallocation of the portfolios of international banks outside their home country where they face tightening pressures). Further studies on the impact of tightening on the behavior of international banks could shed light on this result.33

While these results are suggestive that simultaneous deployment of macroprudential tools could be helpful in lowering contagious banking crises, it is worth noting that the macroprudential data base only begins in 2000 and many countries are only just beginning to use these tools. Further, we have only examined tightening (which we believe is likely to lower crisis probabilities). A full study would also ask whether loosening the policies increases crisis probabilities. Unfortunately, we have insufficient data to perform this alternative hypothesis. As well, we have no information regarding the levels at which these tools have been deployed.

We separately test whether LTV and DTI caps are effective in lowering crisis probabilities, as these are one of the most commonly used (or contemplated) tools in the macroprudential aresenal. In a number of studies (e.g., Arregui, et al. (2013), Bloor and McDonald (2013), and Darbar and Wu (2015)) they are found to be effective at quelling house price appreciation and have outward spillover effects (Buch and Goldberg (2017)). Interestingly, the results using LTV and DTI caps by the domestic country and by a partner country on the domestic crisis probabilities appear less strong than their impact on their intermediate targets of house price growth. This is probably because our sample does not have a sufficient number of countries using LTV and DTI caps prior to the 2008 crisis, which dominates the sample of crises. For the same reason, the relatively stronger results obtained when all macroprudential tools are potentially deployed by both the domestic policymakers as well as trade partner countries’ policymakers suggests that crises (even the 2008 one, in which housing played a central role) respond to other tools besides LTV and DTI caps. Note that we are only able to use trade partners to perform this analysis as not enough countries contribute to BIS data to provide meaningful empirical results.

D. Alternative Specifications

Several studies (including Hahm, Shin and Shin (2012)) have highlighted the role of noncore liabilities in the run-up to currency crises and to the 2008 banking crisis. Hence, in addition to other robustness checks (see Appendix II), we examine this variable specifically. Our main findings broadly hold. The results are reported in Table 7, which is broadly consistent with Table 6 although the sample size is smaller.

Table 7.

Impact of Noncore Liabilities with Domestic and Top-10 Partners’ Macroprudential Tightening on Crisis Probabilities

Dependent variable: Dummy indicating a Banking Crisis.

(Pooled Regression)

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Note: Standard errors in parentheses. ***: Significant at 1% confidence level. **: 5% level. *: 10% level.

VI. Conclusion

We verified the impact of crises in the top-10 partner countries, using trade and financial linkages, on the probability of a domestic banking crisis. Our results confirm that, in addition to domestic information, policymakers need to consider whether their closest partner countries are in crisis when examining the risk of a crisis on their own country. The importance of contagious spillovers sets the stage for the use of simultaneous tightening of macroprudential policies by partner countries to have a mitigating effect.

The main contribution of our paper is that we examine the impact of the tightening of macroprudential tools in partner countries, separately and in addition to the tightening by domestic policymakers, on domestic intermediate targets (real credit growth and real house price growth) and the chances of a domestic financial crisis. Our results, using a database of macroprudential tool deployment, suggest a role for coordinated macroprudential policies across highly-linked countries to stem the risks of widespread banking crises. We show that partners’ tightening tends to lower the precursors to crisis—that is, credit growth and house price growth. We also find that tightening policies by trade or financial partner countries can help lessen the probability that the domestic country experiences a banking crisis (with caveats about the timing discussed in Section V). This result opens the door to a more formal discussion of how, exactly, countries could (or should) coordinate their use of macroprudential tools and how, exactly, transmission works to lower risks.

To date, the current methods of coordinating policies across countries rely mostly on information sharing and discussion within international fora. For example, the G-20 meetings and IMF Annual and Spring Meetings have discussed coordinated macroprudential policies. Basel III provides for “mandatory reciprocity” of the new countercyclical capital buffer—a mechanism whereby the home country is required to maintain at least the same countercyclical capital requirement as the host country for lending to the host country from its banks in that jurisdiction.34 Although only one instance of coordination of a macroprudential tool, helpfully, “the Basel III standards do not preclude an authority from voluntarily reciprocating beyond the mandatory reciprocity provisions for the countercyclical capital buffer or from reciprocating other policy tools.”35 Given their explicit focus on financial stability, the Financial Stability Board and the IMF’s Financial Sector Assessment Programs may provide guidance and peer pressure (if needed) regarding the modalities of internationally coordinated macroprudential policies. This paper proposes the first step by providing evidence about how cross-border coordination can lower the risks of banking crisis more than using domestic policies alone, but also suggests there may be “spillovers” or “leakages” in the short run with the opposite effect of increasing crisis probabilities in some instances. As well, addressing the “free rider” problem that partner countries’ macroprudential policies may help the domestic economy to avoid a banking crisis without domestic policymakers taking any action will need to be considered seriously by international bodies. As such, impediments to coordination may make a forward progress difficult.36

Looking forward, in addition to further robustness testing, future research can focus on how (crisis) environments in partner countries can be explicitly considered in domestic early warning systems. For example, the number of partner countries in crisis can be included as an indicator in such a surveillance system. Further exploration about why trade linkages could be different from banking linkages in predicting crises or mitigating them with macroprudential tools could also be worthwhile as the exact channels are not elucidated in this exercise. Ideally, one would want to test the impact of policy loosening (as opposed the tightening considered here) as this may also have implications for coordination that could avoid negative spillovers after a crisis has erupted. We await more data to conduct this exercise.

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Appendix I. Data

Table A1 lists the main variables and their data sources. Table A2 lists the countries in the BIS data. Bilateral banking claims are obtained from the BIS database, “New Consolidated Banking Statistics” where “broad” options (all banks, total claims, all instruments, all maturities, all currencies, and all sectors) are selected. The original data are quarterly, which are aggregated into annual data from 1970 to 2014 (final update as of November 2015). Table A3 and Table A4 report the country-year lists of banking crises and macroprudential policies.

Table A1.

Data and Sources

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Table A2.

Country List in BIS Data

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Table A3.

List of Crisis Years/Countries

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