Evaluating early warning indicators of banking crises: satisfying policy requirements

BIS Working Papers No 421
August 2013

Early warning indicators (EWIs) of banking crises should ideally be evaluated on the basis of their performance relative to the macroprudential policy maker's decision problem. We translate several practical aspects of this problem - such as difficulties in assessing the costs and benefits of various policy measures as well as requirements for the timing and stability of EWIs - into statistical evaluation criteria. Applying the criteria to a set of potential EWIs, we find that the credit-to-GDP gap and a new indicator, the debt service ratio (DSR), consistently outperform other measures. The credit-to-GDP gap is the best indicator at longer horizons, whereas the DSR dominates at shorter horizons.

JEL classification: C40, G01

Keywords: EWIs, ROC, area under the curve, macroprudential policy