This Time Is the Same: Using Bank Performance in 1998 to Explain Bank Performance During the Recent Financial Crisis
We investigate whether a bank’s performance during the 1998 crisis, which was viewed at the time as the most dramatic crisis since the Great Depression, predicts its performance during the recent financial crisis. One hypothesis is that a bank that has an especially poor experience in a crisis learns and adapts, so that it performs better in the next crisis. Another hypothesis is that a bank’s poor experience in a crisis is tied to aspects of its business model that are persistent, so that its past performance during one crisis forecasts poor performance during another crisis. We show that banks that performed worse during the 1998 crisis did so as well during the recent financial crisis. This effect is economically important. In particular, it is economically as important as the leverage of banks before the start of the crisis. The result cannot be attributed to banks having the same chief executive in both crises. Banks that relied more on short-term funding, had more leverage, and grew more are more likely to be banks that performed poorly in both crises.
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