This paper examines the seasonal pattern of accruals for loan-loss provisions and chargeoffs chosen by bank managers. Using the existing literature on intra-year discretionary accruals, knowledge of the incentive systems used to evaluate bank managers' performance, and various regulatory characteristics, we predict that accruals for provisions and chargeoffs will cluster in the fourth quarter of each year. We examine quarterly data for 105 large bank holding companies from the first quarter of 1980 through the fourth quarter of 1990. Our results indicate that: (1) provisions and chargeoffs are clustered in the fourth quarter, (2) this clustering is not related to the level of business activity of the banks, (3) the proximity of a bank's actual capital to its regulatory capital requirement does not affect this clustering, and (4) current provisions are affected both by current chargeoffs and by expectations about future chargeoffs. To examine whether the systematic characteristics of these loan-loss provision and chargeoff decisions are understood by users, we also estimate a quarterly equity valuation model in which quarterly provisions should be differentially weighted to reflect their seasonal characteristics. We find strong evidence to indicate that equity prices behave as if the market participants take these seasonal properties into account.
We investigate ex-ante efficient contracts in an environment in which implementation is costless. In this environment, standard debt contracts will typically not be optimal. Optimal contracts may involve defaults, even in states in which the borrower is fully able to repay. We then examine the welfare costs of arbitrarily restricting the set of feasible contracts to standard debt contracts. When model parameters are calibrated to realistic values, the welfare loss from exogenously imposing this restriction is extremely small. Thus, if the implementation costs are actually nontrivial (as seems likely), standard debt contracts will be (very close to) optimal.
This paper considers a view commonly associated with the "quantity theory of money": that banks should face 100 percent reserve requirements. It argues first that the objectives of the quantity theorists' proposals were more than merely price level stability, and that in fact, price level stability was at most a secondary objective of their proposals. Second, it argues that these theorists had a world with distortions in mind with respect to their proposals. These are present in a special setting examined that (a) supports the imposition of 100 percent reserve requirements (on the basis of an unconstrained Pareto criterion), and (b) supports the view that these restrictions stabilize the price level and make its movements more "predictable."
This paper comments on "The Real Bills Doctrine vs. the Quantity-Theory: a Reconsideration" by T. Sargent and N. Wallace. It argues that there exists a class of models similar to theirs that is (a) favorable to the quantity theory view of price stability, (b) supports the imposition of 100 percent reserve requirements, and (c) explains a long history of legal credit restrictions. In particular, lending restrictions stabilize price levels and result in Pareto improvements.