Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Does Competition Make Banks More Risk-Seeking?

Stefan Arping, University of Amsterdam - University of Amsterdam Business School; Tinbergen Institute asks Does Competition Make Banks More Risk-Seeking?

ABSTRACT: This article presents a model in which, contrary to conventional wisdom, competition can make banks more reluctant to take excessive risks: As competition intensifies and margins decline, banks face more-binding threats of failure, to which they may respond by reducing their risk-taking. Yet, at the same time, banks become riskier. This is because the direct, destabilizing effect of lower margins outweighs the disciplining effect of competition; moreover, a substantial rise in competition reduces banks’ incentive to build precautionary capital buffers. A key implication is that the effects of competition on risk-taking and on failure risk can move in opposite directions.

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