ECB: G-SIB framework encourages balance sheet window-dressing

This article evaluates whether the global systemically important bank (G-SIB) framework has incentivised banks to adopt window-dressing behaviour, and whether their engagement in capital market activities has facilitated it. Window-dressing behaviour could have detrimental effects on financial stability, for at least two reasons: first, it may imply an underestimation of banks’ overall systemic importance and a distortion of the relative ranking in favour of banks that engage in more window-dressing behaviour; second, overall market functioning may be adversely affected if banks reduce the provision of certain services towards the end of the year. The evidence presented in this article suggests that both G-SIBs and banks with reporting obligations have reduced their overall risk score and some of their individual risk indicators at the end of a calendar year, both in absolute terms and relative to the other banks in the sample. The results also indicate that year-end reductions in capital market activities are a main driver of the observed window-dressing behavior.

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