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U.S. Treasury security settlement fails—whereby market participants are unable to make delivery of securities to complete transactions—spiked in March 2016 to their highest level since the financial crisis. As noted in this post, fails delay the settlement of transactions and can therefore lead to illiquidity, create operational risk, and increase counterparty credit risk. Fails in the Treasury market attract particular attention because of the market’s key role for global investors as a pricing benchmark, hedging instrument, and reserve asset. So what drove the March spike? In this post, we show that much of it reflected sequential fails of benchmark ten-year notes and thirty-year bonds, but that fails in seasoned issues—which have been trending upward for several years—were also elevated.
Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, Beverly Hirtle, and David Lucca
Since the financial crisis, bank regulatory and supervisory policies have changed dramatically both in the United States (Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) and abroad (Third Basel Accord). While these shifts have occasioned much debate, the discussion surrounding supervision remains limited because most supervisory activity— both the amount of supervisory attention and the demands for corrective action by supervisors—is confidential.
Drawing on our recent staff report “Parsing the Content of Bank Supervision,” this post provides a peek behind the scenes of bank supervision, presenting a statistical linguistic analysis based on confidential communications from Fed supervisors to the banks they supervise. Our analysis tackles several fundamental questions: What are the precise supervisory issues being raised? What drives the issues supervisors bring up? How does bank supervision relate to the other two pillars of the Basel Accord: capital regulations and market discipline?
Supervisors monitor banks to assess the banks’ compliance with rules and regulations but also to ensure that they engage in safe and sound practices (see our earlier post What Do Banking Supervisors Do?). Much of the work that bank supervisors do is behind the scenes and therefore difficult for outsiders to measure. In particular, it is difficult to know what impact, if any, supervisors have on the behavior of banks. In this post, we describe a new Staff Report in which we attempt to measure the impact that supervision has on bank performance. Does more attention by supervisors lead to lower risk at banks and, if so, at what cost to profitability or growth?
Thomas Eisenbach, David Lucca, and Robert Townsend
While bank regulation and supervision are the two main components of banking policy, the difference between them is often overlooked and the details of supervision can appear shrouded in secrecy. In this post, which is based on a recent staff report, we provide a framework for thinking about supervision and its relation to regulation. We then use data on supervisory efforts of Federal Reserve bank examiners to describe how supervisory efforts vary by bank size and risk, and to measure key trade-offs in allocating resources.
Last month the New York Fed held a conference on supervising large, complex financial institutions. The event featured presentations of empirical and theoretical research by economists here, commentary by academic researchers, and panel discussions with policymakers and senior supervisors. The conference was motivated by the recognition that supervision is distinct from regulation, but that the difference between them is often not well understood. The discussion focused on defining objectives for supervising the large, complex financial companies that figure so prominently in our financial system and ways of measuring how effectively supervision achieves these goals. This post summarizes the key themes from the conference and introduces the more in-depth posts that will follow in this blog series.
U.S. Bank Holding Companies (BHCs) currently control about 3,000 subsidiaries that provide community housing services—such as building low-income housing units, maintaining shelters, and providing housing services to the elderly and disabled. This aspect of U.S. BHC activity is intriguing because it departs from the traditional deposit-taking and loan-making operations typically associated with banks. But perhaps most importantly, the sheer number of these subsidiaries makes one think about the organizational complexity of U.S. BHCs. This is an issue that has generated much discussion in recent years. In this post we describe the emergence and growth of community housing subsidiaries and discuss to what extent they contribute to the complexity of their parent organizations.
Since the height of the financial crisis, each year the Federal Reserve has disclosed the results of its stress tests, and stress testing has become “business as usual” in the U.S. banking industry. In this post, we assess whether market participants find supervisory stress test disclosures informative. After half a decade, do the disclosures still contain information that the market finds valuable?
U.S. banks have shuttered nearly 5,000 branches since the financial crisis, raising concerns that more low-income and minority neighborhoods may be devolving into “banking deserts” with inadequate, or no, mainstream financial services. We investigate this issue and also ask whether such neighborhoods are particularly exposed to branch closings—a development that, according to recent research, could reduce credit access, even with other branches present, by destroying “soft” information about borrowers that influences lenders’ credit decisions. Our findings are mixed, suggesting that further study of these concerns is warranted.
Tobias Adrian, Michael Fleming, Erik Vogt, and Zachary Wojtowicz
The announced liquidation of Third Avenue’s high-yield Focused Credit Fund (FCF) on December 9, 2015, drew widespread attention and reportedly sent ripples through asset markets. Events of this kind have the potential to increase the demand for market liquidity, as investors revise expectations, reassess risk exposures, and fulfill the need to trade. Moreover, portfolio effects and general fears of contagion may increase the demand for liquidity in assets only remotely related to a liquidating firm’s direct holdings. In this post, we examine whether FCF’s announced liquidation affected liquidity and returns in broader corporate bond markets.
Nicola Cetorelli, Fernando Duarte, Thomas Eisenbach, and Emily Eisner
On December 9, 2015, Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund (FCF) announced a “Plan of Liquidation,” effectively halting investor redemptions. This announcement followed a period of poor performance and large outflows. Assets at the fund had declined from a peak of $2.5 billion in May of 2015 to $942 million in November. Investors had redeemed more than $1.1 billion in shares since April 2015, and the fund’s year-to-date performance as of November had fallen below -21 percent. The FCF “run” highlights the need to quantify the potential for systemic risk among open-end mutual funds and the potential for contagion in the event of more widespread runs on other vulnerable funds. In this post, we first characterize open-end mutual funds that seem vulnerable to redemptions in much the same way as FCF. We then analyze the potential for fire-sale spillovers to other mutual funds if large redemptions in “at-risk” funds were to occur.
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