nr 4 (65) 2016, s. 27-59

Małgorzata Olszak
Faculty of Management of the University of Warsaw

Iwona Kowalska
Faculty of Management of the University of Warsaw

Determinants of Leverage and Liquidity and Bank Size – cross-country study


This paper aims to identify the role of bank size for the sensitivity of leverage and liquidity funding risk to their determinants (both bank-specific and macroeconomic). Applying the two-step robust GMM estimator to individual bank data from over 60 countries covering the period 2000–2011 our study shows that increases in previous period funding liquidity risk are associated with increases in leverage in the full sample and in large banks, but not in other banks. The liquidity of large banks tends also to increase with leverage levels. With reference to the impact of macroeconomic conditions on leverage of banks we find that leverage of large banks is the most procyclical during a crisis period. Liquidity risk is procyclical during non-crisis periods. However, during a crisis period this liquidity risk is countercyclical, consistent with the view that even slight improvements in  macroeconomic environment do not stimulate banks to increase their exposure to this risk. Such effect is particularly strong in the case of large banks. Generally, such counter-cyclicality of liquidity risk of large banks may result in weaker access to the bank financing necessary to stimulate investments in the real economy during a crisis period. This may have further negative consequences for the real economy, generating an extended period of sluggish economic growth.

Key words: leverage, liquidity, funding risk, business cycle, bank size