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02 September 2015

BIS: Higher bank capital requirements and mortgage pricing - evidence from the CCB

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How has the Countercyclical Capital Buffer affected mortgage pricing after Switzerland became the first country to activate this Basel III macroprudential tool? By analyzing a database with several offers per mortgage request, here's a picture of mortgage supply and demand.

The paper finds that the CCB changes the composition of mortgage supply, as relatively capital-constrained and mortgage-specialized banks raise prices more than their competitors do. Second, risk-weighting schemes linked to borrower risk do not amplify the CCB's effect. To conclude, changes in the supply composition suggest that the CCB has achieved its intended effect in shifting mortgages from less resilient to more resilient banks, but stricter capital requirements do not appear to have discouraged less resilient banks from risky mortgage lending.

Two sets of results stand out. First, the CCB affects the composition of mortgage supply. Once the activated CCB imposes higher capital requirements, capital-constrained banks with low capital cushions raise their mortgage rates relatively more than their competitors. Further, after the CCB is activated, specialized banks that operate a very mortgage-intensive business model also raise their mortgage rates to a greater degree in relative terms. In fact, the CCB applies to new mortgages as well as to the stock of all mortgages held on a bank’s balance sheet.

The results for specialized mortgage lenders thus suggest that banks try to pass on the extra capital costs of previously issued mortgages to new customers. Both insights are indicative of changes in the composition of mortgage supply. Based on the assumption that, ceteris paribus, households prefer lower mortgage rates over more expensive ones, the paper concludes that the CCB tends to shift new mortgage lending from relatively less well capitalized banks to relatively better capitalized ones, and from relatively more to relatively less mortgage-exposed banks. For these reasons, both changes in the composition of mortgage supply are broadly supportive of the second macroprudential objective in that they tend to allocate new mortgage lending to banks that are more resilient.

The second set of core findings incorporates the borrower side and the effectiveness of common risk-weighting schemes that translate borrower risk into bank capital requirements. The paper finds that banks generally claim extra compensation for granting riskier mortgages (ie, by charging higher mortgage rates). However, these risk-weighting schemes do not appear to amplify the effect of the CCB on mortgage rates or mortgage creation. Apparently, the link between borrower risk characteristics (here, loan-to-value (LTV) ratios) and capital requirements is too weak to actively discourage banks from offering mortgages to high-LTV borrowers after the CCB is activated.

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© BIS - Bank for International Settlements

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