This paper estimates the relation between bank profitability and economic downturns using a theoretical model that takes into account the bank’s lending history as well as amortization and losses on outstanding loans. We focus on total bank profits and its components: net interest income, other income, and net provisioning plus other costs. Using both aggregate and individual bank panel datasets, our results confirm that pro-cyclicality of bank profits is stronger for deep recessions than during mild ones. Loan-losses are found to be the main driver of this nonlinearity. We find evidence that each percent contraction of real GDP during severe recessions leads to a 0.24 percent decrease in return on bank assets.
JEL-code : E32, G21.
Keywords : Bank profitability, Business cycle.