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In our previous post, we concluded that, in rating agencies’ views, there is no clear consensus on whether the Dodd-Frank Act has eliminated “too-big-to-fail” in the United States. Today, we discuss whether bond market participants share these views.
As we discussed in our post on Monday, the Dodd-Frank Act includes provisions to address whether banks remain “too big to fail.” Title II of the Act creates an orderly liquidation mechanism for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to resolve failed systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs). In December 2013, the FDIC outlined a “single point of entry” (SPOE) strategy for resolving failing SIFIs that, in principle, should obviate bailouts. Under the SPOE, the FDIC will be appointed receiver of the top-tier parent holding company, and losses of a subsidiary bank will be assigned to shareholders and unsecured creditors of the holding company (in a “bail-in” arrangement). The company may be restructured by shrinking businesses, breaking it into smaller entities, liquidating assets, or closing operations to ensure that the resulting entities can be resolved in bankruptcy. Crucially, during this process, the healthy subsidiaries of the company, including any banks, will maintain normal operation, thus avoiding the need for bailouts to prevent systemic instability.
Did the Dodd-Frank Act end ‘‘too-big-to-fail’’ (TBTF)? In this series of two posts, we look at this question through the lens of rating agencies and financial markets. Today we begin by discussing rating agencies’ views on this topic.
Size is usually seen as the leading indication of the costs that a bank failure would impose on society. As a result, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 requires banks to have adequate capital and liquidity to mitigate default risk and imposes additional requirements on larger banks to enhance their safety. In this post, we show that it is highly uncommon for banks to reach sizes at which they are considered systemically important.
Valentin Haddad, Erik Loualiche, and Matthew Plosser
Buyout activity by financial investors fluctuates substantially over time. In the United States, peak years result in close to one hundred public-to-private buyout transactions and trough years in as few as ten. The typical buyout is primarily funded by debt, hence the term “leveraged buyout” (or LBO). As a result, analysis of buyout fluctuations has focused on the availability and cost of debt financing. However, in a recent staff report, we find that the overall cost of capital, rather than debt alone, is the primary driver of buyout activity. We argue that it is the common changes in both the cost of debt and the cost of equity—the aggregate risk premium—that are the source of booms and busts in buyout activity.
In most developed economies, banking is among the most regulated and supervised sectors. While “regulation” and “supervision” are often used interchangeably, these two activities are distinct. Banking supervision is a complement to regulation, but its scope is much broader than simply ensuring that an institution is in compliance with regulation. Despite the importance of supervision, information about it is often limited, both because of the heavy reliance upon banks’ confidential information and because many supervisory activities and actions are themselves confidential. In a recently released Staff Report, we shed more light on the topic by describing the Federal Reserve’s supervisory approach for large, complex financial institutions and how supervision of such firms is conducted on a day-to-day basis at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as part of this broader supervisory program.
Note: A PDF version of this post fully documents the authors’ sources.
Negative interest rates have evolved, over the past few years, from a topic of modest academic interest to a practical reality. Short- and intermediate-term sovereign debt of several European countries, including Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland, now trades at negative yields.
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?
World trade fell 20 percent relative to world GDP in 2008 and 2009. Since then, there has been much debate about the role of trade finance in the Great Trade Collapse. Distress in the financial sector can have a strong impact on international trade because exporters require additional working capital and rely on specific financial products, in particular letters of credit, to cope with risks when selling abroad. In this post, which is based on a recent Staff Report, we shed new light on the link between finance and trade, showing that changes in banks’ supply of letters of credit have economically significant effects on firms’ export behavior. Our research suggests that trade finance helps explain the drop in exports in 2008–2009, especially to smaller and poorer markets.
It’s natural to think of banks as intermediaries that take in deposits and use them to make loans to businesses and individuals. But in fact, loans make up only 45 percent of the assets of U.S. banking organizations. What’s the rest? A large chunk, representing 24 percent of total assets, is accounted for by securities, such as U.S. Treasury and foreign government bonds, mortgage-backed securities (MBS), municipal and corporate bonds, and equities. In this post, we take a tour of bank securities portfolios, making use of charts and statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s report on Quarterly Trends for Consolidated U.S. Banking Organizations. We also discuss reasons why securities represent such a significant part of U.S. banking firm balance sheets.
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.
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