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Does short-term debt increase vulnerability to crisis? Evidence from the East Asian financial crisis
Does short-term debt increase vulnerability to financial crisis, or does causality go the other way, so that short term debt reflects rather than causes the incipient crisis? We approach this question empirically by examining the banking sector in five East Asian economies that were affected by the financial crisis of 1997-8. We put together a firm-level database that includes information on banks? debt obligations as well as on bank failures following the crisis. We deal with potential endogeneity of short term debt by using certain long term debt obligations instead. These are debt obligations that mature at the time of the crisis, and therefore add to the bank?s vulnerability, but since they were contracted many years previously, cannot be mistaken as an endogenous response to changing conditions or expectations in the period immediately before the crisis. We find that such debt obligations that were contracted four years or more before the crisis have a negative, albeit sometimes insignificant effect on the probability of failure. Our results are therefore consistent with an interpretation of short-term debt as reflecting, rather than causing, distress in the banking sector. However, our findings do not rule out the hypothesis that exposure to roll-over risk contributed to bank failure in the East Asian crisis.
AUTHORS: Benmelech, Efraim; Dvir, Eyal