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Japan’s general government debt-to-GDP ratio is the highest of advanced economies, due in part to increased spending on social services for an aging population and a level of nominal GDP that has not increased for two decades. The interest rate payments from taxpayers on this debt are moderated by income earned on government assets and by low interest rates. One might think that the Bank of Japan’s purchases of government bonds would further ease the burden on taxpayers, with interest payments to the Bank of Japan on its bond holdings rebated back to the government. Merging the balance sheets of the government and the Bank, however, shows that the asset purchase program alters the composition of public debt, with reserves in the banking system replacing government bonds, but not the amount of the debt taxpayers must pay interest on.
In March, the Federal Reserve and thirty-one large bank holding companies (BHCs) disclosed their annual Dodd-Frank Act stress test (DFAST) results. This is the third year in which both the BHCs and the Fed have published their projections. In a previous post, we looked at whether the Fed’s and the BHCs’ stress test results are converging in the aggregate and found mixed results. In this post, we look at stress test projections made by individual BHCs. If the Fed’s projections are very different from a BHC’s in one year, do the BHC projections change in the following year to close this gap? Or are year-to-year changes in BHC stress test projections driven more by changes in underlying risk factors? Evidence of BHCs mimicking the Fed would be problematic if it meant that the BHCs are not really independently modelling their own risks. Convergence poses a potential risk to the financial system, since a financial system with monoculture in risk measurement models could be less stable than one in which firms use diverse models that collectively might be more likely to identify emerging risks.
In March, the Federal Reserve and thirty-one large U.S. bank holding companies (BHCs) announced results of the latest Dodd-Frank Act-mandated stress tests. Some commentators have argued that BHCs, in designing their stress test models, have strong incentives to mimic the Fed’s stress test results, since the Fed’s results are an integral part of the Federal Reserve’s supervisory assessment of capital adequacy for these firms. In this post, we look at the 2015 stress test projections by the eighteen largest U.S. BHCs and by the Fed and compare them to similar numbers from 2013 and 2014. As stress testing becomes more established, do we see evidence that the BHCs are mimicking the Fed?
Do riskier banks have more capital? Banking companies with more equity capital are better protected against failure, all else equal, because they can absorb more losses before becoming insolvent. As a result, banks with riskier income and assets would hopefully choose to fund themselves with relatively more equity and less debt, giving them a larger equity cushion against potential losses. In this post, we use a top-down stress test model of the U.S. banking system—the Capital and Loss Assessment under Stress Scenarios (CLASS) model—to assess whether banks that are forecast to lose capital in a severe downturn do indeed have more capital, and how the relationship between capital and risk has evolved over time.
As noted in the introduction to this series, over the past two decades financial intermediation has evolved from a traditional, bank-centered system to one where nonbanks play an increasing role. For my contribution to the series, I document how the sources of bank holding companies’ (BHC) income have evolved. I find that the largest BHCs have changed the most; they’ve shifted their mix of income toward providing new financial services and are earning an increasing share of income outside of their commercial bank subsidiaries. In this post, I summarize my study’s key findings.
The Federal Reserve recently released the results of its latest stress test of large bank holding companies (BHCs). While the stress test results have received a lot of attention, they are just one part of a much larger effort by the Federal Reserve to ensure that these large BHCs have robust processes for determining how much capital they need to maintain access to funding and continue to serve as credit intermediaries, even under stressed conditions. In this post, I describe these larger efforts and the role that the stress test plays in them.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from economists working at the intersection of research and policy. The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Donald Morgan.
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