The paper investigates whether impaired asset segregation tools, otherwise known as bad banks, and recapitalisation lead to a recovery in the originating banks’ lending and a reduction in non-performing loans (NPLs). Results are based on a novel data set covering 135 banks from 15 European banking systems over the period 2000–16. The main finding is that bad bank segregations are effective in cleaning up balance sheets and promoting bank lending only if they combine recapitalisation with asset segregation. Used in isolation, neither tool will suffice to spur lending and reduce future NPLs. Exploiting the heterogeneity in asset segregation events, we find that asset segregation is more effective when: (i) asset purchases are funded privately; (ii) smaller shares of the originating bank’s assets are segregated; and (iii) asset segregation occurs in countries with more efficient legal systems. Our results continue to hold when we address the potential endogeneity problem associated with the creation of a bad bank.
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