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In Rememberance: World Trade Center (WTC)

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Sironi, Andrea and Cristiano Zazzara, "The Basel Committee Proposals for a New Capital Accord: Implications for Italian banks", Review of Financial Economics, Vol. 12, No. 1, (March 2003), pp. 99-126.

Abstract: Following a few general considerations on the recently proposed revision of the Basel Agreement on capital adequacy, this paper focuses on the first pillar of the Basel Committee proposals, the handling of capital requirements for credit risk in the banking book. The Basel Committee envisages an approach alternatively based on external ratings or on internal rating systems for the determination of the minimum capital requirement related to bank loan portfolios. This approach supports a system of capital requirements that is more sensitive to credit risk. On the basis of specific assumptions, these requirements provide a measure of the value at risk (VaR) produced by models used by major international banks. We first address the impact of the standardised and (internal ratings-based) IRB foundation approach using general data on Italian banks loans' portfolios default rates. We then simulate the impact of the proposed new rules on the corporate loan portfolios of Italian banks, using the unique data set of mortality rates recently published by the Bank of Italy. Three main conclusions emerge from the analysis: (i) the standardised approach implicitly penalizes Italian banks in their interbank funding as their rating is generally below AA/Aa, (ii) the average default rate experienced by Italian banks is higher than the one implied in the benchmark risk weight (BRW) proposed by the Basel Committee for the IRB foundation approach, thereby potentially leading to an increase in the regulatory risk weights, and (iii) the risk-weight is based on an average asset correlation that is significantly higher than the one historically recorded within the Italian banks' corporate borrowers. These findings support the need for a significant revision of the basic inputs and assumptions of the Basel proposals. Finally, in relation to the conditions that allow the capital market to effectively discipline banks, we comment on the proposals advanced in relation to the third pillar of the new capital adequacy scheme.

JEL Classification: G11, G21, G28.

Keywords: banks, credit risk, default correlation, value at risk, capital regulation.

Previously titled: The New Basel Accord: Possible Implications for Italian Banks