A recent study finds that those annoying minimum capital and leverage ratio requirements do actually reduce the risk incurred by big banks. With the big banks getting bigger than ever, risk analysis and management will play a critical role in both the political and investment arenas.
We construct a risk management index (RMI) to measure the strength and independence of the risk management function at bank holding companies (BHCs). The U.S. BHCs with higher RMI before the onset of the financial crisis have lower tail risk, lower nonperforming loans, and better operating and stock return performance during the financial crisis years. Over the period 1995 to 2010, BHCs with a higher lagged RMI have lower tail risk and higher return on assets, all else equal. Overall, these results suggest that a strong and independent risk management function can curtail tail risk exposures at banks.