Bank Capital Redux: Solvency, Liquidity, and Crisis


Bjorn Richter

Moritz Schularick

Alan M. Taylor

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2017-06 | March 1, 2017

Higher capital ratios are unlikely to prevent a financial crisis. This is empirically true both for the entire history of advanced economies between 1870 and 2013 and for the post-WW2 period, and holds both within and between countries. We reach this startling conclusion using newly collected data on the liability side of banks’ balance sheets in 17 countries. A solvency indicator, the capital ratio has no value as a crisis predictor; but we find that liquidity indicators such as the loan-to-deposit ratio and the share of non-deposit funding do signal financial fragility, although they add little predictive power relative to that of credit growth on the asset side of the balance sheet. However, higher capital buffers have social benefits in terms of macro-stability: recoveries from financial crisis recessions are much quicker with higher bank capital.

Article Citation

Taylor, Alan M., Bjorn Richter, Moritz Schularick, and Oscar Jorda. 2017. “Bank Capital Redux: Solvency, Liquidity, and Crisis,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2017-06. Available at

About the Author
Òscar Jordà
Òscar Jordà is a senior policy advisor in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Learn more about Òscar Jordà