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Why Do Banks Target ROE?
Nonfinancial corporations focus on the growth in earnings per share (EPS) to benchmark their performance. Banks used to follow a similar practice, but starting in the late 1970s they began to emphasize return on equity (ROE) instead. In this blog post, we outline findings from our recent staff report, which argues that banks had an incentive to make this change when their charter values eroded owing to increased competition, and the incentive to change was magnified by risk-insensitive deposit insurance.
Why do banks target ROE?
Historically, nonfinancial corporations relied on performance targets linked to their EPS. Up until the 1970s, banks also appeared to follow a similar practice, but since then they have favored ROE. Equity investors seem to be aware of these differences because EPS growth is better at explaining nonfinancials? stock market value while ROE is better at explaining banks? market values. In this paper we present a model of a bank with fixed-rate deposit insurance that faces increasing competition that erodes its charter value. When under these conditions the bank chooses its capital to maximize ...