Using a stylized real options model, we show that discretion over the timing of charging off a non-performing loan could be economically justified when collateral values are uncertain and there is a chance of loan recovery. The implied hypothesis of an "uncertainty dependence" aspect in loan charge-offs is empirically tested and validated using a panel of European banks. A welfare-maximizing regulator might want to let banks pursue such discretionary loan charge-off behavior, with the problem of distinguishing it from alternative capital management and income smoothing objectives, while transparency-seeking accounting standards setters would presumably not.
- discretion; loan charge-off; uncertainty dependence; real option
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/frank_strobel/6/