Published: 21.12.2022 Updated: 27.03.2023

Countercyclical capital buffer (hereinafter – CCyB) aims to reduce excessive fluctuations of the financial cycle and to strengthen credit institutions' resilience to the cyclical systemic risk.

Increasing CCyB during the upswing of the financial cycle helps to limit excessive lending. The accumulated additional capital buffers can be used during the periods of financial stress when losses materialise. This strengthens the resilience of credit institutions and helps to maintain the supply of loans, thus limiting the downswing of the financial cycle.

Until the end of 2022, the FCMC was in charge of setting the CCyB rate in Latvia. As of 2023, pursuant to the Credit Institution Law, Latvijas Banka assesses the cyclical systemic risk on a quarterly basis and, where necessary, establishes or adjusts the set CCyB rate applicable to exposures to residents of the Republic of Latvia.

The effective CCyB rate for exposures with Latvia's residents

Date of the decision CCyB rate In force since
27 April 2021 decision 0% 1 May 2022

The assessment of the cyclical systemic risk and the adequacy of the CCyB rate is carried out and published on a quarterly basis.

The Q2 2023 assessment will be conducted and published in June 2023. Going forward these assessments will be conducted in the last month of a quarter to include the latest data on previous calendar quarters’ GDP and associated indicators.

As of 19 May 2021, when pursuant to the revised Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) amendments to the Credit Institution Law took effect changing the procedure for setting the CCyB rate, any decisions on the CCyB rate are taken only when the CCyB rate is changed. Where it remains unchanged, the assessment of the cyclical systemic risk and the adequacy of the applicable CCyB rate is published for the respective quarter.

The latest decision on the CCyB rate of 0% was taken on 27 April 2021.

Every quarter, Latvijas Banka assesses cyclical risks and the adequacy of the CCyB rate and publishes the assessment. If necessary, a decision on changing the CCyB rate is taken. The assessment takes account of the Recommendation of the European Systemic Risk Board (hereinafter – ESRB) of 18 June 2014 on guidance for setting countercyclical buffer rates (ESRB/2014/1)(hereinafter – Recommendation).

According to the Recommendation, the deviation of the credit-to-GDP ratio from the long-term trend in relation to loans granted to the private non-financial sector is used as a starting point for the CCyB rate assessment. An increasing, positive deviation of the credit-to-GDP ratio from its long-term trend suggests that lending has reached excessive levels, posing risks to the financial system. To calculate the long-term trend of the credit-to-GDP ratio, the one-sided Hodrick-Prescott filter[1] with the smoothing parameter value λ = 400 000 is used according to the Recommendation.

It is important to choose the relevant loan indicator when performing an assessment. The loan definition proposed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and used to calculate the standardised credit-to-GDP gap includes the liabilities of the private non-financial sector to both credit institutions and non-bank financial institutions (the "broad" definition of loans). According to the Recommendation, Member States may in addition employ an alternative lending indicator provided it displays better signalling qualities. Latvia uses a more narrowly defined lending indicator as a more appropriate additional indicator. The above lending indicator comprises only loans granted by credit institutions and the purchased non-financial sector debt securities (the "narrow" definition of loans).

The assessment also depends crucially on the selection of the starting point of data time series. In the case of Latvia, it should be borne in mind that the data time series is relatively short and that significant structural changes have affected data. According to estimates, the simulation of setting the historical CCyB rate in Latvia is the closest to experts' assessments regarding the credit cycle if the year 1999 is used as the starting point of the time series.

Using the calculated credit-to-GDP gap, the benchmark buffer rate is determined as fallows - where the credit-to-GDP gap equals or is below 2 percentage points, the benchmark buffer rate is 0%. Where the gap exceeds 2 percentage points, the benchmark buffer rate linearly (according to the Recommendation) increases from 0% to 2.5% (the upper threshold) of risk-weighted assets when the credit-to-GDP gap reaches and exceeds 10 percentage points. Benchmark buffer rate is calculated based on both the standardised credit-to-GDP gap as well as the additional (narrow) credit-to-GDP gap. Taking into account that Latvia uses additional (narrow) credit definition as a more appropriate approach for starting point to decisions underlying CCyB rate, the benchmark buffer rate calculated using narrow credit data is also the buffer guide.

However, the calculated CCyB guide is not the only reference point when assessing the adequacy of the CCyB rate. Comprehensive additional quantitative and qualitative information helping to assess the cyclical systemic risk is also taken into account. Pursuant to the Recommendation, the assessment takes account of additional indicators characterising lending development, potential real estate repricing, external imbalances of the economy, strength of credit institutions' balance sheets, private debt burden, as well as potential mispricing of risks. These indicators, in addition to the CCyB assessment, are published on Latvijas Banka's website on a quarterly basis. Latvijas Banka has also developed a composite cyclical risk indicator used to assess the cyclical risk.

The CCyB rate is expressed as a percentage of the total value of exposures to Latvian residents between 0 and 2.5% (in justified cases, a higher CCyB rate, exceeding 2.5%, may be set).

In the event of raising the CCyB rate, credit institutions have to start maintaining it within 12 months following the publication of the respective notification, but a shorter application period is possible in certain cases. The reduction in the CCyB rate enters into force once the respective decision is taken.

Credit institutions also have to take account of the CCyB rates set in other countries provided they have exposures in the respective countries. Therefore, each credit institution has to calculate its specific CCyB rate. It is calculated as the weighted average rate taking into account the geographical breakdown of exposures and the CCyB rate set in the respective countries. The obtained weighted average credit institution-specific CCyB rate is multiplied by the total value of exposures. The CCyB requirement has to be met by Common Equity Tier 1 capital.

[1] The Hodrick-Prescott filter is a mathematical tool used to establish the long-term trend of a variable. Parameter λ = 400 000 corresponds to the financial cycle that is longer than the economic cycle.

Credit Institution Law (Sections 35.4 – 35.8) 

Financial and Capital Market Commission's Regulation No 137 "Regulations on calculating the institution-specific countercyclical capital buffer rate" of 25 August 2020

Directive 2013/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on access to the activity of credit institutions and the prudential supervision of credit institutions and investment firms, amending Directive 2002/87/EC and repealing Directives 2006/48/EC and 2006/49/EC (CRD) (Articles 130, 135–140 and 160)

Recommendation of the European Systemic Risk Board of 18 June 2014 on guidance for setting countercyclical buffer rates (ESRB/2014/1)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 152/2014 of 4 June 2014 supplementing Directive 2013/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to regulatory technical standards on the identification of the geographical location of the relevant credit exposures for calculating institution-specific countercyclical capital buffer rates

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/637 of 15 March 2021 laying down implementing technical standards with regard to public disclosures by institutions of the information referred to in Titles II and III of Part Eight of Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1423/2013, Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1555, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/200 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/2295