December 2014 issue contents
Financial Stability and Central Bank Governance

by Michael Koettera, b, Kasper Roszbachc, d and Giancarlo Spagnoloe, f, g


The financial crisis has ignited a debate about the appropriate objectives and the governance structure of central banks. We use novel survey data to investigate the relation between these traits and banking system stability, focusing in particular on their role in micro-prudential supervision. We find that the separation of powers between single and multiple bank supervisors cannot explain credit risk prior to or during the financial crisis. Similarly, a large number of central bank governance traits do not correlate with system fragility. Only the objective of currency stability exhibits a significant relation with non-performing loan levels in the run-up to the crisis. This effect is amplified for those countries with most frequent exposure to IMF missions in the past. Our results suggest that the current policy discussion on whether to centralize prudential supervision under the central bank and the ensuing institutional changes some countries are enacting may not produce the improvements authorities are aiming at. Whether other potential improvements in prudential supervision due to, for example, external disciplinary devices, such as IMF conditional lending schemes, are better suited to increase financial stability requires further research.

JEL Codes: G18, G34, G38, E58.

Full article (PDF, 37 pages, 1220 kb)

a Frankfurt School of Finance and Management 
b Halle Institute for Economic Research 
c University of Groningen 
d Sveriges Riksbank 
e University of Rome Tor Vergata 
f SITE, Stockholm School of Economics