SAFE Working Paper No. 167

Natural Disaster and Bank Stability: Evidence from the U.S. Financial System

We show that property damages from weather-related natural disasters significantly weaken the stability of banks with business activities in affected regions, as reflected in lower z-scores, higher probabilities of default, higher non-performing assets ratios, higher foreclosure ratios, lower returns on assets, and lower bank equity ratios. The effects are economically relevant and suggest that insurance payments and public aid programs do not sufficiently protect bank borrowers against financial difficulties. We also find that the adverse effects on bank stability dissolve after some years if no further disasters occur during that time.