Faculty of Business and Law
School of Accounting, Finance and Economics / Finance, Economics, Markets and Accounting Research Centre
In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the Canadian and Australian banking systems have been singled out by some commentators as having performed better than many other banking systems, particularly those in Europe, America and the United Kingdom. Banks in both Canada and Australia, for instance, have continued to report enviable earnings, sound capital levels, and high credit ratings both before and during the GFC. The G-20 and the European Union have tried to identify the features of the Canadian and Australian financial systems which have underpinned this success in order to use them in shaping a revised international regulatory framework. One area of focus has been the regulations governing “quality of capital”. Despite these apparent successes, there is some evidence that both Canadian and Australian banks experienced considerable deterioration in the market value of their assets during the GFC. In this paper we use the KMV / Merton structural methodology, which incorporates market asset values, to examine default probabilities of 9 listed Canadian banks and 13 Australian listed banks in both a pre-GFC period (2000-2006) and a GFC period (2007-2008). We also modify the model to incorporate conditional probability of default which measures extreme credit risk. This paper finds that bank risk was significantly similar for Australian and Canadian Banks during the GFC period. This includes an assessment of impaired assets, Value at Risk (VaR) and Distance to Default (DD), as well as the extreme measures of Conditional VaR (CVaR), and Conditional Distance to Default (CDD); metrics which confirm the two countries similarities in terms of a significant increase in credit risk between pre-GFC and GFC periods. The extent of this increase was, however, far more pronounced for Australia, which was coming off a lower base. Bank risk for both countries was found to be far lower than for global counterparts due to factors such as sound regulatory control and low levels of involvement in sub-prime lending. This could provide lessons for global banks on risk management. A key conclusion of the paper is that it is important that fluctuating market values, especially the extreme fluctuations which are measured by CVaR and CDD, are a key consideration when determining risk management criteria such as capital adequacy.