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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.
In a recent post, I discussed the significant impact that “fracking” and other unconventional energy development has had on bank deposits. Using this deposit windfall, I estimated how banks allocate these funds, finding that over the recent business cycle they reduced the portion used for loans. In this post, I will discuss what may have influenced the decision to lend these funds or to hold liquid assets like cash or securities.
Banks play a crucial role in the economy by channeling funds from savers to borrowers. The ability of banks to accomplish this intermediation has become an important element in understanding the causes and consequences of business cycles. In a recent staff report, I investigate how a positive deposit windfall translates into investments by banks. This post, the first of two, shows how the development of new energy resources has led to deposit inflows to banks and how that can be used to estimate banks’ investment decisions over the recent business cycle. The second post will look at factors that might explain the business cycle patterns observed below.
Commercial banks didn’t become eligible for S-Corporation status until 1997, when President Bill Clinton signed legislation (the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996) that allowed commercial banks to select S-Corporation as their preferred tax status. In this post, we discuss the features and history of S-Corporations, as well as the effect of lifting the restriction on banks’ organizational tax choice.
Tri-party repo is popular among securities dealers as a way to raise short-term funding. The tri-party repo settlement process has been improved, and continues to be improved, with the implementation of a set of recent reforms. Two main goals of these reforms are to sharply reduce the amount of liquidity needed to facilitate the settlement of tri-party repo contracts, and to increase the use of more resilient sources of liquidity (for example, term financing and committed credit) to ensure that settlement can occur in good and bad times. In this post, we detail how the reforms have affected the sources of liquidity that dealers can use to facilitate settlement of tri-party repo contracts. We then explain cash investors’ role in the settlement process, and highlight how their current practice of sending principal payments late in the day disrupts the timely settlement of tri-party repo contracts.
The recent financial crisis underscored the importance of understanding how liquidity conditions for banks (or other financial institutions) influence the banks’ lending to domestic and foreign customers. Our recent research examines the domestic and international lending responses to liquidity risks across different types of large U.S. banks before, during, and after the global financial crisis. The analysis compares large global U.S. banks—that is, those that have offices in foreign countries and are able to move liquidity from affiliates across borders—with large domestic U.S. banks, which have to rely on financing raised in capital markets and from depositors to extend credit and issue loans. One key result of our study, detailed below, is that the internal liquidity management by global banks has, on average, mitigated the effects of aggregate liquidity shocks on domestic lending by these banks.
Claudia M. Buch, James Chapman, and Linda Goldberg
Over the past thirty years, the typical large bank has become a global entity with subsidiaries in many countries. In parallel, financial liberalization has increased the interconnectedness of banking systems, with domestic banking systems becoming more exposed to shocks transmitted through foreign banks. This globalization of banking propagated liquidity risk during the global financial crisis and subsequent euro area crisis. Unfortunately, little is known about how cross-border operations of global banks transmit liquidity shocks between countries. The seminal work by Peek and Rosengren (1997, 2000) provides early examples of how bank-level data can help identify the specific transmission channels. There are, however, two limitations to conducting this line of research. First, there is a lack of public data on the balance sheets of global banks. Second, it is difficult to compare the results of different research projects that use sensitive supervisory data collected by banking supervisors and central banks. Together with other scholars, we established the International Banking Research Network (IBRN) to overcome these limitations.
From time to time, and most recently in the April 2014 meeting of the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, U.S. Treasury officials have questioned whether the Treasury should have a safety net that would allow it to continue to meet its obligations even in the event of an unforeseen depletion of its cash balances. (Cash balances can be depleted by an unanticipated shortfall in revenues or a spike in disbursements, an inability to access credit markets on a timely basis, or an auction failure.) The original version of the Federal Reserve Act provided a robust safety net because the act implicitly allowed Reserve Banks to buy securities directly from the Treasury. This post reviews the history of the Fed’s direct purchase authority. (A more extensive version of the post appears in this New York Fed staff report.)
Michael Fleming, Frank Keane, Antoine Martin, and Michael McMorrow
In June of this year—as we noted in the preceding post—settlement fails in U.S. Treasury securities spiked to their highest level since the implementation of the fails charge in May 2009. Our first post reviewed what fails are, why they arise, and how they can be measured. In this post, we dig into the fails data to identify possible explanations for the high level of fails in June. We observe that sequential fails of several benchmark securities accounted for the lion’s share of fails in June, but that fails in seasoned securities—which have been trending upward for some time—were also elevated.
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