Deteriorating public finances around the world raise doubts about countries' abilities to bail out their largest banks. For an international sample of banks, this paper investigates the impact of government indebtedness and deficits on bank stock prices and credit default swap spreads. Overall, bank stock prices reflect a negative capitalization of government debt and they respond negatively to deficits. The authors present evidence that in 2008 systemically large banks saw a reduction in their market valuation in countries running large fiscal deficits. Furthermore, the change in bank credit default swap spreads in 2008 relative to 2007 reflects countries' deterioration of public deficits. The results of the analysis suggest that some systemically important banks can increase their value by downsizing or splitting up, as they have become too big to save, potentially reversing the trend to ever larger banks. The paper also documents that a smaller proportion of banks are systemically important - relative to gross domestic product - in 2008 than in the two previous years, which could reflect private incentives to downsize.
Demirguc-Kunt, A.; Huizinga, H. Are Banks Too Big to Fail or Too Big to Save? International Evidence from Equity Pricesand CDS Spreads. Policy Research Working Paper 5360. World Bank, Washington DC, USA (2010) 46 pp.