Effects of Negative Interest Rates on Stability and Profitability of Commercial Banks

Tobias Bucher


The article examines the impact of the European Central Bank's (ECB) negative interest rate policy (NIRP) on commercial banks in Europe. It traces the historical context of the policy back to the financial market and banking crises, which eroded trust among banks, leading to liquidity issues and economic downturns. To counteract this, the ECB introduced negative interest rates in 2014, aiming to stimulate the economy.

The research question focuses on how NIRP affects banks' annual reports, particularly concerning total assets, credit and risk volumes, proprietary trading, profits, and stability. The hypothesis suggests that NIRP significantly increases risks in bank profitability and stability. Analysis spanning from 2014 to 2022 compares negative interest rate changes with bank balance sheet and profit/loss account developments.

Economic theory predicts that negative interest rates decrease bank profits but increase lending activity. Statistical analysis confirms a correlation between NIRP and increased credit risk volume, as well as a shift from bonds to shares in proprietary trading. However, there is no statistical evidence linking NIRP with profit and profitability declines.

In conclusion, while NIRP does lead to a significant increase in credit risk volume, it does not halt falling profits and profitability. Therefore, the hypothesis that NIRP increases risks for commercial banks' profitability and stability holds true, posing a threat to financial stability.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/afr.v13n3p9


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Accounting and Finance Research
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