Market risk vs. credit risk

February 11, 2009 by Guest Contributor

The difference between market risk and credit risk

By: Tom Hannagan

Market risk is different than credit risk. The bank’s assets are mostly invested in loans and securities (about 90% of average assets). These loans and securities have differing interest rate structures – some are fixed and some are floating. They also have differing maturities. Meanwhile, the bank’s liabilities, deposits and borrowings also have differing maturities and interest rate characteristics. If the bank’s (asset-based) interest income structure is not properly aligned with the (liability-based) interest expense structure, the result is interest rate risk. As market rates change (up or down), the bank’s earning are impacted (positively or negatively) based on the mismatch in its balance sheet structure.

The bank can offset market risk by purchasing interest rate swaps or other interest rate derivatives. The impact of insufficient attention to interest rate risk can damage earnings and may, again, negatively affect the bank’s capital position.

So, ultimately, the bank’s risk-based capital acts as the last line of defense against the negative impact from, you guessed it, unpredictable variability – or “risk.” That is why equity is considered risk-based capital. Good risk management, predicting and risk-based pricing leads to safer earnings performance and equity position.