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Risk-Based Capital and Deposit Insurance Reform

Risk-based capital (RBC) is an important component of deposit insurance reform. This paper provides an empirical analysis of the new 1992 RBC bank standards, applying them to data on virtually all U.S. banks from 1982 to 1989. The data reveal strong associations between several measures of future bank performance (including bankruptcy) and the RBC relative risk weights. These associations suggest that the weights constitute a significant improvement over the old capital standards, although there are several instances in which the weights for specific categories appear to be out of line with the performance results. Tests of the informational value of passing or failing the new and old capital standards show that both have independent information, but that the new RBC standards better predict future bank performance problems. The data also indicate that, in contrast to the old standards, the RBC capital burden falls much more heavily on large banks. As a result, banks representing more than one-fourth of all bank assets would have failed the new RBC standards as of 1989. The new standards are also more stringent overall. More banks would have failed the new standards than the old ones, with larger average capital deficiencies.

Suggested citation: Avery, Robert, and Allen Berger, 1991. “Risk-Based Capital and Deposit Insurance Reform,” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper no. 91-01.

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