Signalling by banks using loan loss provisions: The case of the European Union

Stergios Leventis, Panagiotis E. Dimitropoulos, Asokan Anandarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether bank managers of countries within the European Union (EU) engage in signalling, especially after implementation of international financial reporting standards (IFRS) commencing 2005. Design/methodology/approach: "Signaling" is the use of loan loss provisions (LLPs) to convey signals of fiscal prudence and future profitability to investors. The authors use data from 18 countries across the EU covering the pre and post IFRS regimes and apply univariate and multivariate tests in order to test signaling behavior under both accounting regimes. Findings: The findings indicate insufficient evidence that financially healthy banks engage in signaling behavior. However, banks facing financial distress appear to engage in aggressive signaling relative to healthy banks. Finally, the propensity to engage in signaling behavior is more pronounced for financially distressed banks in the post IFRS regime. While IFRS, under IAS 39 sort to mitigate the discretionary component of LLPs, our finding may be attributable to lax enforcement of IFRS. Practical implications: The findings have implications for both investors and regulators. Investors should be aware that troubled banks engage in signaling to convey positive information about their future prospects. Regulators should be aware that financially stressed banks have a greater propensity to engage in signaling and need to ensure that the provisions of IFRS (which attempts to limit discretion in estimating LLPs) are enforced more stringently. Originality/value: The paper contributes to the growing literature on bank signaling in a number of ways. First, the authors use a sample from 18 countries within the EU which has not been done before. Second, unlike prior studies which only examined healthy banks, the authors also include financially distressed banks in the sample. Third, the authors examine signaling behavior in the pre and post IFRS regimes to understand the influence of IFRS on the propensity to engage in signaling by bank managers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-618
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Economic Studies
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

Keywords

  • Commercial banks
  • European Union
  • Financial reporting
  • International standards
  • Loan loss provisions
  • Signalling

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