Abstract: Building on the work of Jiang et al. (2023) we develop a framework to analyze the effects of credit risk on the solvency of U.S. banks in the rising interest rate environment. We focus on commercial real estate (CRE) loans that account for about quarter of assets for an average bank and about $2.7 trillion of bank assets in the aggregate. Using loan-level data we find that after recent declines in property values following higher interest rates and adoption of hybrid working patterns about 14% of all loans and 44% of office loans appear to be in a “negative equity” where their current property values are less than the outstanding loan balances. Additionally, around one-third of all loans and the majority of office loans may encounter substantial cash flow problems and refinancing challenges. A 10% (20%) default rate on CRE loans – a range close to what one saw in the Great Recession on the lower end -- would result in about $80 ($160) billion of additional bank losses. If CRE loan distress would manifest itself early in 2022 when interest rates were low, not a single bank would fail, even under our most pessimistic scenario. However, after more than $2 trillion decline in banks’ asset values following the monetary tightening of 2022, additional 231 (482) banks with aggregate assets of $1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) would have their marked to market value of assets below the face value of all their non-equity liabilities. To assess the risk of solvency bank runs induced by higher rates and credit losses, we expand the Uninsured Depositors Run Risk (UDRR) financial stability measure developed by Jiang et al. (2023) where we incorporate the impact of credit losses into the market-to-market asset calculation, along with the effects of higher interest rates. Our analysis, reflecting market conditions up to 2023:Q3, reveals that CRE distress can induce anywhere from dozens to over 300 mainly smaller regional banks joining the ranks of banks at risk of solvency runs. These findings carry significant implications for financial regulation, risk supervision, and the transmission of monetary policy.


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