August 2011

Capital Ratios and Bank Lending: A Matched Bank Approach

Mark Carlson, Hui Shan, and Missaka Warusawitharana


This paper examines the impact of bank capital ratios on bank lending by comparing differences in loan growth to differences in capital ratios at sets of banks that are matched based on geographic area as well as size and various business characteristics. We argue that such comparisons are most effective at controlling for local loan demand and other environmental factors. For comparison we also control for local factors using MSA fixed effects. We find, based on data from 2001 to 2009, that the relationship between capital ratios and bank lending is insignificant until the recent financial crisis. We also find that the effect of capital ratios on loan growth varies by type of loan, with some of the strongest effects in recent years being for commercial real estate loans. Finally, we show that the elasticity of bank lending with respect to capital ratios is higher when capital ratios are relatively low, suggesting that the effect of capital ratio on bank lending is nonlinear.

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Keywords: Regulatory capital, bank capital, bank lending

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Last Update: July 10, 2020