Liberty Street Economics
Liberty Street Economics
October 18, 2018

Bank-Intermediated Arbitrage



LSE_2018_Bank-Intermediated Arbitrage

Since the 2007-09 financial crisis, the prices of closely related assets have shown persistent deviations—so-called basis spreads. Because such disparities create apparent profit opportunities, the question arises of why they are not arbitraged away. In a recent Staff Report, we argue that post-crisis changes to regulation and market structure have increased the costs to banks of participating in spread-narrowing trades, creating limits to arbitrage. In addition, although one might expect hedge funds to act as arbitrageurs, we find evidence that post-crisis regulation affects not only the targeted banks but also spills over to less regulated firms that rely on bank intermediation for their arbitrage strategies.

October 17, 2018

Credit Market Choice



LSE_2018_Credit Market Choice

Credit default swaps (CDS) are frequently credited with being the cause of AIG’s collapse during the financial crisis. A Reuters article from September 2008, for example, notes “[w]hen you hear that the collapse of AIG […] might lead to a systemic collapse of the global financial system, the feared culprit is, largely, that once-obscure […] instrument known as a credit default swap.” Yet, despite the prominent role that CDS played during the financial crisis, little is known about how individual financial institutions utilize CDS contracts on individual companies. In a recent New York Fed staff report, we assess the choice banks face when trading the idiosyncratic credit risk of a firm, and argue that banks’ participation decisions have been affected in the post-regulation period, either by direct changes in market structure or by changes in the relative cost of pursuing different strategies.

October 16, 2018

Liquidity Effects of Post-Crisis Regulatory Reform



LSE_2018_Liquidity Effects of Post-Crisis Regulatory Reform

The post-crisis regulatory reform efforts to improve capital and liquidity positions of regulated institutions provide incentives for banks to change not only the structure of their own balance sheets but also how they interact with their customers and other market participants more generally. A 2015 PwC study on global financial market liquidity, for example, noted that “[a]s banks respond to the new regulatory environment, they have sought to make more efficient use of capital and liquidity resources, by reducing the markets they serve and streamlining their operations.” In this blog post, we provide an overview of three recent New York Fed staff reports that study the impact that post-crisis regulation has had on the willingness and ability of regulated firms to participate in U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) markets.

October 15, 2018

Did Banks Subject to LCR Reduce Liquidity Creation?



LSE_2018_Did Banks Subject to LCR Reduce Liquidity Creation?

Banks traditionally provide loans that are funded mostly by deposits and thereby create liquidity, which benefits the economy. However, since the loans are typically long-term and illiquid, whereas the deposits are short-term and liquid, this creation of liquidity entails risk for the bank because of the possibility that depositors may “run” (that is, withdraw their deposits on short notice). To mitigate this risk, regulators implemented the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) following the financial crisis of 2007-08, mandating banks to hold a buffer of liquid assets. A side effect of the regulation, however, is a reduction in liquidity creation by banks subject to LCR, as we find in our recent paper.

October 12, 2018

Leverage Rule Arbitrage



LSE_Leverage Rule Arbitrage

Classic arbitrage involves the same asset selling at different prices; the leverage rule arbitrage we study here involves assets of different risk levels requiring the same amount of capital. The supplementary leverage ratio (SLR) rule, finalized by U.S. regulators in September 2014, requires a minimum ratio of capital to assets at the largest U.S. banks. The floor is higher for more systemically important banks, but not for banks with riskier assets. That non-risk-based aspect of SLR was intentional, since the leverage limit was meant to backstop (“supplement”) risk-based capital rules in case banks underestimate their asset risk and overstate their capital strength. As policymakers have noted and bankers have warned, if the leverage rule is the binding capital requirement, banks can “arbitrage” the rule by selling safer assets and replacing them with riskier, higher-yielding ones. The findings of our recent staff report are consistent with those concerns.

October 11, 2018

What Happens When Regulatory Capital Is Marked to Market?



LSE_What Happens When Regulatory Capital Is Marked to Market?

Minimum equity capital requirements are a key part of bank regulation. But there is little agreement about the right way to measure regulatory capital. One of the key debates is the extent to which capital ratios should be based on current market values rather than historical “accrual” values of assets and liabilities. In a new research paper, we investigate the effects of a recent regulatory change that ties regulatory capital directly to the market value of the securities portfolio for some banks.

October 10, 2018

Why Do Banks Target ROE?



LSE_Why Do Banks Target ROE?

Nonfinancial corporations focus on the growth in earnings per share (EPS) to benchmark their performance. Banks used to follow a similar practice, but starting in the late 1970s they began to emphasize return on equity (ROE) instead. In this blog post, we outline findings from our recent staff report, which argues that banks had an incentive to make this change when their charter values eroded owing to increased competition, and the incentive to change was magnified by risk-insensitive deposit insurance.

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Bank Capital , Banks | Permalink | Comments ( 0 )

October 09, 2018

Analyzing the Effects of CFPB Oversight



LSE_Analyzing the Effects of CFPB Oversight

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created in 2011, is a key element of post-crisis U.S. financial regulation, as well as the subject of intense debate. While some have praised the agency, citing the benefits of consumer financial protection, others argue that its activities involve high compliance costs, increase uncertainty and legal risk, and ultimately reduce the availability of financial services for consumers. We present new evidence on whether the CFPB’s supervisory and enforcement activities have significantly affected the supply of mortgage credit, or had other effects on bank risk-taking and profitability.

October 04, 2018

Changing Risk-Return Profiles



LSE_Changing Risk-Return Profiles

Are stock returns predictable? This question is a perennially popular subject of debate. In this post, we highlight some results from our recent working paper, where we investigate the matter. Rather than focusing on a single object like the forecasted mean or median, we look at the entire distribution of stock returns and find that the realized volatility of stock returns, especially financial sector stock returns, has strong predictive content for the future distribution of stock returns. This is a robust feature of the data since all of our results are obtained with real-time analyses using stock return data since the 1920s. Motivated by this result, we then evaluate whether the banking system appears healthier today, and if recent regulatory reforms have helped.

October 03, 2018

The Cost of Regulatory Capital



LSE_The Cost of Regulatory Capital

Banks contend that equity capital is expensive and that an increase in capital requirements will adversely impact bank services, including the volume and cost of mortgages and corporate loans. For example, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in 2017 that “It is clear that the banks have too much capital…and more of that capital can be safely used to finance the economy.” In a recent staff report, we compare the different treatments of short-term credit commitments under the Basel I and Basel II Accords to assess the effect of capital regulation on banks’ cost of capital.

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Bank Capital , Banks | Permalink | Comments ( 0 )

About the Blog
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.

The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.

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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