Faculty of Business and Law
School of Accounting, Finance and Economics / Finance, Economics, Markets and Accounting Research Centre
Despite Canadian and Australian banks being widely perceived as having weathered the storm of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) very successfully, the impaired assets (also known as non-performing loans) of both these two countries increased several fold during this crisis. Previous studies in other countries have tended to focus on the impact of bank specific factors, such as size and return on equity, in explaining bank risk. Our approach involves including those traditional variables, plus Distance to Default (DD), and a novel contagion variable, which is the effect of major global bank DD on Australian and Canadian non-performing loans. The study incorporates all twenty two listed Australian and Canadian Banks and uses a fixed effects panel data regression over the period 1999-2008. Robustness checks include correlation and VIF analysis as well a two stage least squares model as an alternative. We find that bank specific balance sheet and income statement factors are not good explanatory variables for bank risk. In contrast, the contagion variable is significant in explaining Canadian and Australian bank risk, which suggests that prudential regulators should look to specifically allocate a portion of regulatory capital to deal with contagion effects.