Those Who Paid Attention to Risk, Did Better in Crisis

DownsideRiskCROcentralityGraph2010-1.jpgSource of graph: screen capture from p. 43 of NBER paper referenced below.

At the American Economic Association meetings in Denver from January 6-9, I attended several sessions dealing the causes and cures of the economic crisis of the last few years.
One issue that came up more than once was whether, and to what extent, various decision makers were blameworthy in what happened. Was this a crisis that well-trained, hard-working and prudent managers, regulators and legislators should have seen coming? Or was it a once in 100 year storm that nobody should be expected to have foreseen?
One compelling bit of evidence was presented in a talk on January 8th by Charles Calomiris in which he presented a graph from a 2010 NBER paper by Ellul and Yerramilli. The graph, shown above, indicates that firms that took risk seriously, as proxied by their giving an important pre-crisis role to a Chief Risk Officer (CRO), tended to suffer less downside volatility during the crisis.

Source:

Ellul, Andrew, and Vijay Yerramilli. “Stronger Risk Controls, Lower Risk: Evidence from U.S. Bank Holding Companies.” NBER Working Paper # 16178, July 2010.

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