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Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR)


Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is a financial measure used to evaluate a bank’s financial strength by assessing its available capital in relation to its risk exposures. It is calculated by dividing a bank’s total capital (Tier 1 and Tier 2) by its risk-weighted assets. A higher CAR indicates a bank’s ability to absorb potential losses and protect depositors, making it an essential metric for regulators to ensure the stability of the financial system.


The phonetic pronunciation of Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is: /ˈkæpɪtl əˈdɛkwəsi ˈreɪʃioʊ (kɑr)/

Key Takeaways

  1. Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is a key measure of a bank’s financial strength and stability, as it evaluates the ratio of a bank’s available capital to its risk-weighted assets.
  2. Regulatory authorities use the CAR to ensure that banks maintain a minimum required level of capital, thereby protecting depositors and promoting stability in the financial system. This minimum level is generally set at 8% under Basel III guidelines.
  3. A high CAR indicates that a bank has sufficient capital to absorb potential losses from its operations, enabling it to continue functioning during financial turmoil. Conversely, a low CAR can signal potential financial distress, as the bank’s ability to withstand economic downturns may be compromised.


The Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is a crucial financial metric used by banks and regulatory bodies to assess a financial institution’s ability to absorb potential losses and meet financial obligations. It measures the proportion of a bank’s core capital relative to its risk-weighted assets, essentially evaluating the bank’s financial strength and stability. A higher CAR indicates greater resilience against financial shocks and insolvency, instilling confidence in depositors, investors, and regulators. Furthermore, maintaining a robust CAR is essential for banks to comply with regulatory requirements, safeguarding the overall health of the financial system and ensuring protection against systemic risks.


The purpose of the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is to serve as a key measure of a bank’s financial strength and stability by assessing the sufficiency of its capital to absorb potential losses in relation to its risk exposure. It is a crucial metric used by regulators, investors, and market participants to monitor and evaluate the overall health and resilience of a financial institution. The importance of the CAR lies in its ability to safeguard depositors and promote the stability and efficiency of the entire financial system, as well as to prevent bank failures and the subsequent contagion effects that jeopardize market stability. The application of the Capital Adequacy Ratio is not only restricted to evaluating the risk management practices and capital allocation of a bank but also serves as a tool for implementing prudent regulatory norms. Central banks and regulatory authorities use CAR as a benchmark to ensure that financial institutions maintain an appropriate level of capital adequacy, thereby enforcing discipline and preventing the excessive risk-taking that often characterizes financial crises. Additionally, higher CARs are typically associated with lower levels of risk and a higher degree of confidence from stakeholders, including customers, investors, and rating agencies, which could translate into favorable credit ratings and lower borrowing costs for the institution.


Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is a key metric used by regulators to measure the financial health and stability of banks and other financial institutions. Here are three real-world examples to illustrate how CAR affects businesses: 1. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (2019): In the first quarter of 2019, JPMorgan Chase, a leading global financial institution, reported a strong CAR of 13.1%. This showcased that the bank had well-diversified and risk-weighted assets, and a substantial capital buffer. Due to its high CAR, the bank is able to weather any potential financial stress or losses and maintain the trust of investors and consumers. 2. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – Global Financial Crisis (2008): In the global financial crisis of 2008, RBS was one of the most severely affected banks. Its CAR dropped to 4.5%, significantly lower than the regulatory requirement of 11% (including the capital conservation buffer). This led to RBS having inadequate capital to cover its risks, which ultimately forced the UK government to step in and bail out the bank. 3. Basel III Requirements – International Efforts for Financial Stability: Following the 2008 financial crisis, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision introduced the Basel III framework. This framework increased the minimum regulatory capital adequacy ratio requirements for banks to 8%, with an additional 2.5% capital conservation buffer, resulting in a total CAR of 10.5%. The higher requirements were put in place to ensure banks have enough capital to withstand unexpected loss situations and contribute to global financial stability.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR)?
The Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is a financial metric that measures a bank’s ability to absorb potential losses and its overall financial health. It is expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted credit exposure. It is designed to ensure that banks have sufficient capital to withstand economic downturns or financial shocks.
Why is the Capital Adequacy Ratio important?
CAR is essential for monitoring the stability and safety of a bank, as it helps regulators and investors evaluate a bank’s risk-taking capacity and ability to manage those risks. A higher CAR percentage indicates a stronger capital position and a lower likelihood of bank failure.
How is the Capital Adequacy Ratio calculated?
CAR is calculated using the following formula:Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) = (Tier 1 Capital + Tier 2 Capital) / Risk-Weighted AssetsTier 1 capital represents the core capital of a bank, which includes common equity, retained earnings, and other instruments that can absorb losses. Tier 2 capital takes into account supplementary capital, such as subordinated debt. Risk-weighted assets are a bank’s assets adjusted for their associated risk levels.
What is the minimum Capital Adequacy Ratio requirement?
According to Basel III guidelines, the minimum CAR requirement for banks is 10.5%. This includes a minimum Tier 1 capital ratio of 6.0% and a minimum total capital ratio of 8.0%, plus a 2.5% capital conservation buffer. However, individual countries might have their specific regulatory requirements.
How can a bank improve its Capital Adequacy Ratio?
Banks can improve their CAR by increasing their Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital or by reducing their risk-weighted assets. Some methods to achieve this include issuing new capital instruments (such as equity or subordinated debt), retaining earnings and profits, reducing high-risk assets, or increasing the proportion of low-risk assets in their portfolio.
What happens if a bank’s Capital Adequacy Ratio falls below the required threshold?
If a bank’s CAR falls below the regulatory minimum, authorities might impose restrictions and require the bank to submit detailed plans for restoring its capital adequacy. These restrictions can include limitations on dividend payments, asset growth, or new business lines. In extreme cases, the bank may be subject to regulatory actions, such as a forced merger or liquidation.
Can Capital Adequacy Ratio be used to compare banks across different countries?
CAR can provide a relative indicator of financial strength between banks in different countries, but it is essential to consider the differences in regulations and capital requirements across jurisdictions. Additionally, banks’ asset composition, risk management practices, and the overall stability of their respective domestic economies should be taken into account when comparing CAR across countries.

Related Finance Terms

  • Regulatory Capital
  • Risk-Weighted Assets
  • Basel Accords
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 Capital
  • Minimum Capital Requirements

Sources for More Information

  • Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/capitaladequacyratio.asp
  • Corporate Finance Institute: https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/finance/capital-adequacy-ratio-car/
  • Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/definition/capital-adequacy-ratio
  • Analytics Step: https://www.analyticssteps.com/blogs/what-capital-adequacy-ratio

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