Monetary policy and the risk-taking channel

7 December 2009

This paper investigates the link between low interest rates and bank risk-taking. Monetary policy may influence banks' perceptions of, and attitude towards, risk in at least two ways: (i) through a search for yield process, especially in the case of nominal return targets; and (ii) by means of the impact of interest rates on valuations, incomes and cash flows, which in turn can modify how banks measure risk. Using a comprehensive dataset of listed banks, this paper finds that low interest rates over an extended period cause an increase in banks' risk-taking.

JEL classification: E44, E55, G21