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New Evidence on the Determinants of Bank Risk


This paper uses equity returns for publicly traded US bank holding companies (BHCs) from 1997 to 2004 to identify the determinants of risk, measured by equity market volatility, and examine how they have evolved. The results indicate that balance sheet items such as commercial and industrial loans and consumer lending and income statement items such as other noninterest income drive the cross-sectional differences in BHC risk. Newly mandated regulatory data on the components of other noninterest income show that investment banking, servicing, securitization income, gains from loan sales, gains other asset sales, and other noninterest income are particularly volatile activities. This highlights the value of increased transparency as a means to improve market discipline and reduce the opacity of complex financial institutions. Finally, in the years after 2000, the locus of risk has shifted off of the balance sheet and onto the income statement as investors identify the new risks associated with evolving and expanding bank activities.

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Correspondence to Kevin J. Stiroh.

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Stiroh, K.J. New Evidence on the Determinants of Bank Risk. J Finan Serv Res 30, 237–263 (2006).

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  • Commercial banks
  • risk
  • transparency
  • volatility