The investment of foreign exchange reserves or other asset portfolios requires an assessment of the credit quality of counterparties. Traditionally, foreign exchange reserve managers and other investors have relied on credit rating agencies (CRAs) as the main source for credit assessments.
The authors document leverage, capital and liquidity ratios of banks in Canada. These ratios are important indicators of different types of risk with respect to a bank’s balance‐sheet management. Particular attention is given to the observations by different types of banks, including small banks that historically received less attention.
This article examines four indicators of balance-sheet risks—leverage, capital, asset liquidity and funding—among different types of financial institutions in Canada over the past three decades. It also discusses relevant developments in the banking sector that could have contributed to the observed dynamics. The authors find that the various risk indicators decreased during the period for most of the non-Big Six financial institutions, but remained relatively unchanged for the Big Six banks. In addition, the balance-sheet risk indicators became more heterogeneous across financial institutions. The observed overall decline and increased heterogeneity follow certain regulatory changes, such as the introduction of the liquidity guidelines on funding in 1995 and the implementation of bank-specific leverage requirements in 2000. Given that these regulations required more balance-sheet risk management, they have likely contributed to the increased resilience of the banking sector.
The authors use microdata from the 1999 and 2005 Surveys of Financial Security to identify changes in household debt, and discuss their potential implications for monetary policy and financial stability. They document an increase in the debt-income ratio, which rose from 0.75 to 0.95, on average.