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Profitability and risk in interest-free banking industries: a dynamic panel data analysis

Mohamed Ali Trabelsi (Department of Quantitative Methods, Faculty of Economics and Management, University Tunis El Manar, Ariana, Tunisia)
Naama Trad (Department of Economics, Universite de Tunis El Manar, Tunis, Tunisia)

International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management

ISSN: 1753-8394

Article publication date: 16 October 2017

Issue publication date: 17 October 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine whether Islamic finance could replace or complement the traditional financial system and could guarantee stability in times of crisis.


To achieve the aim, the authors examined both risk-taking and profitability of 94 Islamic banks (IBs) operating in 18 countries observed during the 2006-2013 financial crisis period. A series of bank-specific and other country-specific indicators are combined to explain profitability of IBs as measured by return on assets and return on equity, and risk divided into credit risk measured by impaired loans/gross loans and total equity/net loans, and insolvency risk measured by Z-score. Indeed, a bank is stronger than another if it is stable with a higher capacity to absorb risks, on the one hand, and increased performance on the other.


Using dynamic panel data econometrics (generalized moment method system), the authors estimated five regressions and found the following results: bank capital is found to be the main indicator that contributes to maximizing profitability and stability of IBs and reducing their credit risk. However, the study of liquidity and asset quality determinants often leads to inconclusive results. Nevertheless, they found that Gulf region-operating IBs are more profitable, more solvent and less risky than those operating in the South East Asian region. At the macroeconomic level, the authors could not find a significant relationship between inflation rate and IBs profitability. However, unlike for IBs in Southeast Asia, the authors found that inflation rate improves IBs stability and reduces their credit risk level.

Practical implications

The results of this study have numerous implications for bank management and the different stakeholders (investors, customers). This study identified several factors that may help bank managers to improve their financial outlook by controlling risk level and profitability. These factors could as well help to understand how macroeconomic indicators affect both banking risk and profitability, in particular Islamic banking. Likewise, portfolio managers can use these results to support their decisions to include IBs in their assets portfolios to mitigate potential risk.


This study contributes to the existing literature in two ways. First, this paper provides fresh data and recent information on Islamic banking in Gulf Cooperation Council and South East Asian countries. Second, the obtained results helped us to conclude that the Islamic financial system cannot replace but rather supplements the traditional system. This result may be explained by the fact that Muslims look for Islamic banking products, which conventional banks are not offering.



Trabelsi, M.A. and Trad, N. (2017), "Profitability and risk in interest-free banking industries: a dynamic panel data analysis", International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 454-469.



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