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Immediately following the presidential election of 2016, both consumer and investor sentiments were buoyant and financial markets boomed. That these sentiments affect financial asset prices is not so surprising, given past stock market evidence and episodes such as the dot-com bubble. Perhaps more surprising, the risk of corporate default—which is driven mainly by firms’ financial health but also by bond liquidity—also fell following the election, as indicated by lower yield spreads. In this post, I show that, although expectations of better corporate and macroeconomic conditions were the primary drivers of lower credit risk, improved investor sentiment also contributed.
Over the last decade, the concept of “safe assets” has received increasing attention, from regulators and private market participants, as well as researchers. This attention has led to the uncovering of some important details and nuances of what makes an asset “safe” and why it matters. In this blog post, we provide a review of the different aspects of safe assets, discuss possible reasons why they may be beneficial for investors, and give concrete examples of what these assets are in practice.
As stock market volatility hovers near all-time lows, some analysts are questioning whether investors are complacent, drawing an analogy to the lead-up to the financial crisis. But, is this time different? We follow up on our previous post by investigating the persistence of low volatility periods. Historically, realized stock market volatility is persistent and mean-reverting: low volatility today predicts slightly higher, but still low, volatility one month and one year from now. Moreover, as of mid-September, the market is pricing implied volatility of 19 percent in one to two years’ time. This level contrasts with the pre-crisis period when the term structure of implied volatility was relatively flat, which suggests this time may indeed be different, at least as measured by market participants’ pricing of risk.
In recent months, some analysts and policymakers have raised concerns about the unusually low level of stock market volatility. For example, in the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes “a few participants expressed concern that subdued market volatility, coupled with a low equity premium, could lead to a buildup of risks to financial stability.” In this post, we review this concern and find the evidence on investor complacency is mixed. On one hand, we present a view suggesting that historical volatility may have been abnormally high, rather than current volatility being abnormally low. On the other hand, we find that estimates of the volatility risk premium are somewhat low, which is consistent with the view that investor risk tolerance has increased. We extend this analysis in a related post publishing on Wednesday.
Gara Afonso, Adam Biesenbach, and Thomas Eisenbach
Short-term credit markets have evolved significantly over the past ten years in response to unprecedentedly high levels of reserve balances, a host of regulatory changes, and the introduction of new monetary policy tools. Have these and other developments affected the way monetary policy shifts “pass through” to money markets and, ultimately, to households and firms? In this post, we discuss a new measure of pass‑through efficiency, proposed by economists Darrell Duffie and Arvind Krishnamurthy at the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Jackson Hole summit.
Antoine Martin, Susan McLaughlin, and Jordan Pollinger
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases data on a number of market operations, reference rates, monetary policy expectations, and Federal Reserve securities portfolio holdings. These data are released at different times, for different types of securities or rates, and for different audiences. In an effort to bring this information together in a single, convenient location, the New York Fed developed the Markets Data Dashboard, which was launched today.
Mary Amiti, Patrick McGuire, and David E. Weinstein
A major question facing policymakers is how to deal with slumps in bank credit. The policy prescriptions are very different depending on whether the decline is a result of global forces, domestic demand, or supply problems in a particular banking system. We present findings from new research that exactly decompose the growth in banks’ aggregate foreign credit into these three factors. Using global banking data for the period 2000-16, we uncover some striking patterns in bilateral credit relationships between consolidated banking systems and borrowers in more than 200 countries. The most important we term the “Anna Karenina Principle” of global banking: all healthy credit relationships behave alike; each unhealthy credit relationship is unhealthy in its own way.
Over the last two decades, the U.S. secondary loan market has evolved from a relatively sleepy market dominated by banks and insurance companies that trade only occasionally to a more active market comprising a diversified set of institutional investors, including collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), loan mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds, brokers, and private equity firms. This shift resulted from the growing presence of these investors in the syndicates of corporate loans, as shown in the chart below. In 1991 the average term loan had just two different types of investors; by 2013 that number had grown to five.
James Egelhof, Antoine Martin, and Noah Zinsmeister
Since the global financial crisis, central bankers and other prudential authorities have been working to design and implement new banking regulations, known as Basel III, to reduce risk in the financial sector. Although most features of the Basel III regime are implemented consistently across jurisdictions, some important details vary. In particular, banks headquartered in the euro area, Switzerland, and Japan report their leverage ratios—essentially, capital divided by total consolidated assets—as a snapshot of their value on the last day of the quarter. In contrast, institutions headquartered in the United States and the United Kingdom report most leverage ratio components as averages of their daily values over the quarter. In this post, we study the impact of this difference in regulatory implementation on rates and quantities borrowed in the U.S. repo market.
The possible adverse effects of regulation on market liquidity in the post-crisis period continue to garner significant attention. In a recent paper, we update and unify much of our earlier work on the subject, following up on three series of earlier Liberty Street Economics posts in August 2015, October 2015, and February 2016. We find that dealer balance sheets have continued to stagnate and that various measures point to less abundant funding liquidity. Nonetheless, we do not find clear evidence of a widespread deterioration in market liquidity.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
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