The cyclicality of loan loss provisions under three different accounting models: the United Kingdom, Spain, and Brazil
ABSTRACT A controversy involving loan loss provisions in banks concerns their relationship with the business cycle. While international accounting standards for recognizing provisions (incurred loss model) would presumably be pro-cyclical, accentuating the effects of the current economic cycle, an alternative model, the expected loss model, has countercyclical characteristics, acting as a buffer against economic imbalances caused by expansionary or contractionary phases in the economy. In Brazil, a mixed accounting model exists, whose behavior is not known to be pro-cyclical or countercyclical. The aim of this research is to analyze the behavior of these accounting models in relation to the business cycle, using an econometric model consisting of financial and macroeconomic variables. The study allowed us to identify the impact of credit risk behavior, earnings management, capital management, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) behavior, and the behavior of the unemployment rate on provisions in countries that use different accounting models. Data from commercial banks in the United Kingdom (incurred loss), in Spain (expected loss), and in Brazil (mixed model) were used, covering the period from 2001 to 2012. Despite the accounting models of the three countries being formed by very different rules regarding possible effects on the business cycles, the results revealed a pro-cyclical behavior of provisions in each country, indicating that when GDP grows, provisions tend to fall and vice versa. The results also revealed other factors influencing the behavior of loan loss provisions, such as earning management.