This research investigates whether income smoothing via loan loss provision is lower for Credit Cooperative Banks than for non-Credit Cooperative Banks. Using data collected from the financial reporting of a sample of private banks, and Ordinary Least Square models based on net income or its variation, as used by previous literature, we find that income smoothing through loan loss provision is lower in Credit Cooperative Banks than in banks with different ownership structures. Results remain the same using several robustness tests (decomposition of loans, quality of loans, change in economic growth, cluster and fixed effect, effect of financial crisis). Mutual ownership, smaller size, and the local boundaries that characterize Credit Cooperative Banks may reduce the need for managers to manipulate earnings. Our findings give a positive evaluation of the recent Italian Law No. 18/2016 which reforms Credit Cooperative Banks, and imply that benefits of Credit Cooperative Banks ownership structure may derive from the group structure which gives a higher level of stability and solidity.
Keywords: Income smoothing, loan loss provision, credit cooperative banks