# Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR): Understanding, Calculation, and Real-world Examples

Summary:

The Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), also known as the Capital-to-Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR), is a crucial financial indicator that assesses a bank’s ability to meet its obligations. This comprehensive article explains what CAR measures, its formula, and its significance in ensuring the stability of financial institutions. Dive into the world of banking regulations and capital adequacy to understand how this ratio impacts the banking industry and financial stability.

## What is the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR)?

The Capital Adequacy Ratio, often referred to as CAR or CRAR, plays a pivotal role in the financial sector. It serves as an indicator of a bank’s capacity to meet its obligations and is closely monitored by regulatory authorities worldwide. This ratio compares the amount of capital a bank holds to its risk-weighted assets, providing insights into its ability to withstand losses and financial stress.

### Types of capital measured

When evaluating CAR, two types of capital are considered:

• Tier-1 Capital: This includes core funds that a bank keeps on hand to manage losses, allowing the bank to continue operating even during adverse financial conditions.
• Tier-2 Capital: This represents a secondary source of funds available in case a bank faces closure. These funds are typically generated from the sale of assets.

The combination of Tier-1 and Tier-2 capital is a critical component in calculating a bank’s Capital Adequacy Ratio.

## Understanding CAR

The Capital Adequacy Ratio is calculated by dividing a bank’s total capital by its risk-weighted assets. Currently, the minimum required ratio of capital to risk-weighted assets is 8% under Basel II and 10.5% under Basel III, which includes a 2.5% conservation buffer. Banks with CARs higher than these minimum requirements are considered to have high capital adequacy ratios.

Why is this minimum CAR so critical? It serves as a financial cushion, ensuring that banks can absorb a reasonable amount of losses before becoming insolvent and potentially losing depositors’ funds.

### Calculating risk-weighted assets

Risk-weighted assets are a fundamental component in determining CAR. These assets are calculated by assessing a bank’s loans, evaluating their associated risks, and assigning appropriate weights. For example, loans provided to the government are assigned a minimal risk weight of 0.0%, while those given to individuals receive a risk weight of 100.0%.

The concept of risk-weighting ensures that the capital requirement aligns with the actual risk posed by different types of assets. This method includes both on-balance sheet and off-balance sheet exposures, such as foreign exchange contracts and guarantees, in the calculation of risk-weighted assets.

WEIGH THE RISKS AND BENEFITS

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

##### Pros
• Enhanced financial stability
• Protection of depositors’ interests
• Global standard for banking regulation
##### Cons
• Potential for compliance costs for banks
• May not fully account for all risks in complex financial markets

### The CAR formula

The Capital Adequacy Ratio is calculated using the following formula:

CAR = (Tier 1 capital + Tier 2 capital) / Risk-weighted assets

For example, if Acme Bank has \$20 million in Tier-1 capital, \$5 million in Tier-2 capital, and risk-weighted assets of \$65 million, its CAR would be 38% ((\$20 million + \$5 million) / \$65 million). A CAR of 38% indicates a high level of capital adequacy, signifying the bank’s ability to weather financial downturns and losses associated with its loans.

## Why the Capital Adequacy Ratio matters

Minimum capital adequacy ratios are essential as they reveal whether individual banks have a sufficient financial cushion to absorb losses and avoid insolvency. High capital adequacy ratios contribute to the efficiency and stability of a nation’s financial system, reducing the risk of bank failures.

During the winding up process, depositors’ funds are given a higher priority than the bank’s capital. Therefore, the higher a bank’s CAR, the greater the protection for depositors’ assets. Banks with high CARs are perceived as healthy and capable of meeting their financial commitments, even during challenging economic conditions.

### CAR vs. the solvency ratio

While CAR assesses a bank’s ability to withstand losses related to its loans, the solvency ratio focuses on a company’s capacity to meet its short- and long-term debt obligations. A solvency ratio below 20% indicates an increased likelihood of default. Analysts often prefer the solvency ratio as it measures actual cash flow, which is essential for debt repayment.

The choice between CAR and the solvency ratio depends on the specific evaluation needs. CAR is primarily used for assessing banks, while the solvency ratio is employed for companies across various industries.

### CAR vs. Tier-1 leverage ratio

The Tier-1 leverage ratio is related to the capital adequacy ratio but focuses on a bank’s core capital in relation to its total assets. A higher Tier-1 leverage ratio indicates a bank’s ability to withstand negative shocks to its balance sheet.

## Limitations of using CAR

One limitation of CAR is its failure to account for expected losses during a bank run or financial crisis, which can impact a bank’s capital and cost of capital. Many analysts and bank executives view economic capital as a more accurate measure of a bank’s financial soundness and risk exposure. Economic capital considers expected losses, credit rating, and confidence level of solvency, providing a more realistic assessment of a bank’s financial health and risk level.

## What are the Basel Accords?

The Basel Accords consist of a trio of regulatory agreements formed by the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision. These agreements address capital risk, market risk, and operational risk. Their purpose is to ensure that banks and financial institutions maintain sufficient capital to handle unexpected losses, promoting financial stability.

### Minimum capital adequacy ratios allowed

According to the Basel II agreement, the minimum CAR is 8%. With the Basel III agreement and an added 2.5% conservation buffer, it is set at 10.5%. The U.S.’s Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC) mandates an 8% minimum ratio for total capital to total risk-weighted assets.

### Purpose of the Capital Adequacy Ratio

The primary purpose of the Capital Adequacy Ratio is to ensure that banks maintain sufficient funds to absorb losses and prevent insolvency. A high CAR signifies a bank’s ability to cover losses and remain solvent even during challenging economic circumstances.

## Importance of CAR in regulatory oversight

The Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) isn’t just a financial metric; it’s a critical tool in regulatory oversight. Regulators use CAR to evaluate a bank’s financial health, ensuring that it can meet its obligations and protect depositors. A CAR that meets or exceeds regulatory requirements is a strong indicator of a bank’s stability.

For example, consider Bank XYZ, which has a CAR of 12% under Basel III. This percentage signifies that the bank holds sufficient capital to weather economic downturns. As a result, regulatory authorities have confidence in the bank’s ability to safeguard the interests of its depositors.

## The global impact of CAR

The concept of the Capital Adequacy Ratio isn’t limited to a single country or region; it has a global impact. The international banking community recognizes the importance of CAR in maintaining financial stability and preventing crises.

One prominent example is the financial crisis of 2008. Banks with insufficient capital faced severe difficulties during the crisis, leading to government bailouts and economic turmoil. Since then, there has been a concerted effort to strengthen CAR regulations worldwide, making them more stringent to protect against future financial crises.

### What is the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR)?

The Capital Adequacy Ratio, often referred to as CAR or CRAR, plays a pivotal role in the financial sector. It serves as an indicator of a bank’s capacity to meet its obligations and is closely monitored by regulatory authorities worldwide. This ratio compares the amount of capital a bank holds to its risk-weighted assets, providing insights into its ability to withstand losses and financial stress.

### How is the Capital Adequacy Ratio calculated?

The Capital Adequacy Ratio is calculated by dividing a bank’s total capital by its risk-weighted assets. Currently, the minimum required ratio of capital to risk-weighted assets is 8% under Basel II and 10.5% under Basel III, which includes a 2.5% conservation buffer. Banks with CARs higher than these minimum requirements are considered to have high capital adequacy ratios.

### What are the types of capital measured in CAR?

When evaluating CAR, two types of capital are considered:

Tier-1 Capital: This includes core funds that a bank keeps on hand to manage losses, allowing the bank to continue operating even during adverse financial conditions.

Tier-2 Capital: This represents a secondary source of funds available in case a bank faces closure. These funds are typically generated from the sale of assets.

The combination of Tier-1 and Tier-2 capital is a critical component in calculating a bank’s Capital Adequacy Ratio.

### What is the purpose of the Capital Adequacy Ratio?

The primary purpose of the Capital Adequacy Ratio is to ensure that banks maintain sufficient funds to absorb losses and prevent insolvency. A high CAR signifies a bank’s ability to cover losses and remain solvent even during challenging economic circumstances.

### How does the Capital Adequacy Ratio impact the average consumer?

CAR’s significance extends beyond the banking industry. A high CAR indicates that a bank is well-prepared to handle financial downturns, reducing the risk of bank failures. As a result, the average consumer can have confidence in the safety of their deposits, knowing that banks with strong CARs are better equipped to protect their savings.

### What are the limitations of using CAR?

One limitation of CAR is its failure to account for expected losses during a bank run or financial crisis, which can impact a bank’s capital and cost of capital. Many analysts and bank executives view economic capital as a more accurate measure of a bank’s financial soundness and risk exposure. Economic capital considers expected losses, credit rating, and confidence level of solvency, providing a more realistic assessment of a bank’s financial health and risk level.

## Key takeaways

• CAR assesses a bank’s ability to meet its obligations by comparing capital to risk-weighted assets.
• Tier-1 and Tier-2 capital are crucial components in calculating CAR.
• High CARs contribute to the stability of a nation’s financial system and protect depositors’ assets.
• Economic capital provides a more accurate measure of a bank’s financial soundness and risk exposure.
###### View Article Sources
1. Capital Adequacy Ratios – International Association of Deposit Insurers
2. Capital Adequacy Ratios: An Agnostic Viewpoint – JSTOR
3. The Impact of the Capital Adequacy Ratio, Non – SHS Web of Conferences