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Regulatory reforms since the financial crisis have sought to make the financial system safer and severe financial crises less likely. But by limiting the ability of regulated institutions to increase their balance sheet size, reforms—such as the Dodd-Frank Act in the United States and the Basel Committee's Basel III bank regulations internationally—might reduce the total intermediation capacity of the financial system during normal times. Decreases in intermediation capacity may then lead to decreased liquidity in markets in which the regulated institutions intermediate significant trading activity. While recent commentary by market participants claims that this is indeed the case—a Wall Street Journal article [subscription required] notes that “three-quarters of institutional bond investors say that liquidity provided by bond dealers has declined in the past year...”—empirical studies have struggled to find evidence supporting this narrative. In this post, we summarize the findings of our recent article in the Journal of Monetary Economics that addresses the apparent disconnect between the market-participant commentary and the empirical evidence by focusing on the relationship between bond-level liquidity and financial institutions’ balance sheet constraints.
Viral V. Acharya, Michael J. Fleming, Warren B. Hrung, and Asani Sarkar
During the 2007-08 financial crisis, the Fed established lending facilities designed to improve market functioning by providing liquidity to nondepository financial institutions—the first lending targeted to this group since the 1930s. What was the financial condition of the dealers that borrowed from these facilities? Were they healthy institutions behaving opportunistically or were they genuinely distressed? In published research, we find that dealers in a weaker financial condition were more likely to participate than healthier ones and tended to borrow more. Our findings reinforce the importance of Bagehot’s principle that the lender-of-last resort should lend only against high-quality collateral and at a penalty rate so as to discourage unneeded or opportunistic borrowing.
Alexandra Altman, Kathryn Bayeux, Marco Cipriani, Adam Copeland, Scott Sherman, Brett Solimine
Editor’s note: In the data file originally released with this post, some repo volume figures were misaligned with their dates; the problem has been corrected. (December 19, 11:15 a.m.)
In its recent “Statement Regarding the Publication of Overnight Treasury GC Repo Rates,” the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in cooperation with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research, announced the potential publication of three overnight Treasury general collateral (GC) repurchase (repo) benchmark rates. Each of the proposed rates is designed to capture a particular segment of repo market activity. All three rates, as currently envisioned, would initially be based on transaction-level overnight GC repo trades occurring on tri-party repo platforms. The first rate would only include transactions in the tri-party repo market, excluding both General Collateral Finance Repo Service, or GCF Repo®, transactions and Federal Reserve transactions. (GCF Repo is a registered service mark of the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation.) Henceforth in this post, this segment will be referred to as tri-party ex-GCF/Fed. The second rate would build on the first by including GCF Repo trading activity while still excluding Federal Reserve transactions. Finally, the third rate would include tri-party ex-GCF/Fed transactions, GCF Repo transactions, and Federal Reserve transactions. The repo benchmark rates would be calculated as volume-weighted medians, as is currently the case for the production of the effective federal funds rate (EFFR) and the overnight bank funding rate (OBFR), and would be accompanied by summary statistics. The three proposed rate compositions result from staff analysis on the various market segments and characteristic trading behavior, though the New York Fed expects to work with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to seek public comment on the composition and calculation methodology for these rates before adopting a final publication plan.
Editors’ note: The original version of this post had the terms “borrowers” and lenders” reversed and had some figures wrong. The corrected figures do not suggest, as before, that dealers who switch between borrowing and lending are pursing collateral swapping strategies. We regret the error. (August 16)
In this post, the third in a series on GCF Repo®, we describe dealers’ trading strategies. We show that most dealers exhibit highly regular strategies, using the GCF Repo service either to borrow or to lend, on net, on almost all the days in which they are active. Moreover, dealers’ strategies are highly persistent over time: Dealers that use GCF Repo to borrow (or to lend) in a given quarter are highly likely to continue to do so in the following quarter. Understanding how dealers trade in the GCF Repo market may provide insight about the role of the repo market more generally and about how recent regulations and market reforms can affect dealers’ trading strategies.
Michael Fleming, Frank Keane, and Ernst Schaumburg
The recent Joint Staff Report on October 15, 2014, exploring an episode of unprecedented volatility in the U.S. Treasury market, revealed that primary dealers no longer account for most trading volume on the interdealer brokerage (IDB) platforms. This shift is noteworthy because dealers contribute to long-term liquidity provision via their willingness to hold positions across days. However, a large share of Treasury security trading occurs elsewhere, in the dealer-to-customer (DtC) market. In this post, we show that primary dealers maintain a majority share of secondary market trading volume when DtC trading is taken into account. We also use survey data on large dealers to characterize activity in the DtC market and discuss some of the gaps in the available Treasury trading volume data.
Securities broker-dealers (dealers) trade securities on behalf of their customers and themselves. Recently, analysts have pointed to the decline in U.S. dealers’ corporate bond inventories as evidence that dealers’ market making capacity is impaired. However, historically such inventories also reflect dealers’ risk management and proprietary trading activities. In this post, we take a long-term perspective on the evolution of dealers’ inventories of corporate bonds, Treasuries, and other debt securities and relate those inventories to expected returns in fixed-income markets in an effort to better understand the drivers of dealer positioning.
Tobias Adrian, Michael Fleming, Or Shachar, and Erik Vogt
First in a six-part series
Commentators have argued that market liquidity has deteriorated in recent years as regulatory changes have reduced banks’ ability and willingness to make markets. In the corporate debt market, dealer positions, which are considered essential to good liquidity, have indeed declined, even as issuance and outstanding debt have increased. But is there evidence of reduced market liquidity? In previous posts, we discussed these issues in the context of the U.S. Treasury securities market. In this post, we focus on the U.S. corporate bond market, reviewing both price- and quantity-based liquidity measures, including trading volume, trade size, bid-ask spreads, and price impact.
Tobias Adrian, Michael Fleming, and Ernst Schaumburg
Market participants and policymakers have raised concerns about the potential adverse effects of financial regulation on market liquidity—the ability to buy and sell securities quickly, at any time, at minimal cost. Market liquidity supports the efficient allocation of capital through financial markets, which is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. Changes in market liquidity, whether due to regulation or other forces, are therefore of great interest to policymakers and market participants alike.
Tobias Adrian, Michael Fleming, and Ernst Schaumburg
Market participants and policymakers have recently raised concerns about market liquidity—the ability to buy and sell securities quickly, at any time, at minimal cost. Market liquidity supports the efficient allocation of capital through financial markets, which is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. Changes in market liquidity, whether due to regulation, changes in market structure, or otherwise, are therefore of great interest to policymakers and market participants alike.
Nina Boyarchenko, Thomas Eisenbach, and Or Shachar
In a previous post, “Mapping and Sizing the U.S. Repo Market,” our colleagues described the structure of the U.S. repurchase agreement (repo) market. In this post, we consider whether recent regulatory changes have changed the behavior of securities broker-dealers, who play a significant role in repo markets. We focus on the General Collateral Finance (GCF) Repo market, an interdealer market primarily using U.S. Treasury and agency securities as collateral. We find that some dealers use GCF Repo as a substantial source of funding for their inventories, while others primarily use GCF Repo to fine-tune their repo positions. Recent regulatory changes, such as the supplementary leverage ratio (SLR), may be contributing to reduced lending in the GCF Repo market.
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.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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