Bank Capital Regulation of Trading Portfolios: An Assessment of the Basel Framework

Gordon J. Alexander, Alexandre M. Baptista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In setting minimum capital requirements for trading portfolios, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (1996, 2011a, 2013) initially used Value-at-Risk (VaR), then both VaR and stressed VaR (SVaR), and most recently, stressed Conditional VaR (SCVaR). Accordingly, we examine the use of SCVaR to measure risk and set these requirements. Assuming elliptically distributed asset returns, we show that portfolios on the mean-SCVaR frontier generally lie away from the mean-variance (M-V) frontier. In a plausible numerical example, we find that such portfolios tend to have considerably higher ratios of risk (measured by, e.g., standard deviation) to minimum capital requirement than those of portfolios on the M-V frontier. Also, we find that requirements based on SCVaR are smaller than those based on both VaR and SVaR but exceed those based on just VaR. Finally, we find that requirements based on SCVaR are less procyclical than those based on either VaR or both VaR and SVaR. Overall, our paper suggests that the use of SCVaR to measure risk and set requirements is not a panacea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-634
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Money, Credit and Banking
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2017



  • Basel framework
  • bank capital regulation
  • risk
  • trading portfolios

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