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Countercyclical contingent capital (CCC): possible use and ideal design

By Giuseppe De Martino, Massimo Libertucci, Mario Marangoni and Mario Quagliariello

Abstract

Contingent capital – any debt instrument that converts into equity when a predefined event occurs – has received increasing attention as a viable tool for allowing banks to raise capital when needed at relatively more affordable prices than common equity. While the debate has focused on contingent capital for systemically important financial institutions, this paper concentrates on its possible use for covering capital needs arising from the implementation of countercyclical buffers. We propose the introduction of countercyclical contingent capital (CCC) based on a double trigger. The interaction of the two triggers would determine a quasi-default status. Conversion would be required when the financial system is simultaneously facing aggregate problems and the individual bank – while still in a going concern status – shows weaknesses. Building on this proposal, the paper tests how different double triggers would have worked in the past and discusses the optimal design of the conversion mechanism and prudential treatment.Basel 2, capital buffer, procyclicality, contingent capital, financial crisis, reforms

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