In this post we summarize the main results of our contribution to a recent e-book, “The Making of the European Monetary Union: 30 years since the ERM crisis,” on the economic and financial crises in Europe since 1992-93, and focus on the spillovers of those crises onto the United States and the global economy. We find that the answer to the question in the title of this post is a (moderate) yes.
Comparing our financial stability real interest rate, r** (“r-double-star”) with the prevailing real interest rate gives a measure of how vulnerable the economy is to financial instability. In this post, we first explain how r** can be measured, and then discuss its evolution over the last fifty years and how to interpret the recent banking turmoil within this framework.
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank (SB) has raised questions about the fragility of the banking system. One striking aspect of these bank failures is how the runs that preceded them reflect risks and trade-offs that bankers and regulators have grappled with for many years. In this post, we highlight how these banks, with their concentrated and uninsured deposit bases, look quite similar to the small rural banks of the 1930s, before the creation of deposit insurance. We argue that, as with those small banks in the early 1930s, managing the information around SVB and SB’s balance sheets is of first-order importance.
Proponents of narrow banking have argued that lender of last resort policies by central banks, along with deposit insurance and other government interventions in the money markets, are the primary causes of financial instability. However, as we show in this post, non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) triggered a financial crisis in 1772 even though the financial system at that time had few banks and deposits were not insured. NBFIs profited from funding risky, longer-dated assets using cheap short-term wholesale funding and, when they eventually failed, authorities felt compelled to rescue the financial system.
The incentives that drive bank runs have been well understood since the seminal work of Nobel laureates Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig (1983). When a bank is suspected to be insolvent, early withdrawers can get the full value of their deposits. If and when the bank runs out of funds, however, the bank cannot pay remaining depositors. As a result, all depositors have an incentive to run. The failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank remind us that these incentives are still present for uninsured depositors, that is, those whose bank deposits are larger than deposit insurance limits. In this post, we discuss a policy proposal to reduce uninsured depositors’ incentives to run.
The economic disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a global dash-for-cash as investors sold securities rapidly. This selling pressure occurred across advanced sovereign bond markets and caused a deterioration in market functioning, leading to a number of central bank actions. In this post, we highlight results from a recent paper in which we show that these disruptions occurred disproportionately in the U.S. Treasury market and offer explanations for why investors’ selling pressures were more pronounced and broad-based in this market than in other sovereign bond markets.
June 2022 marks the 250th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1772-3 credit crisis. Although not widely known today, this was arguably the first “modern” global financial crisis in terms of the role that private-sector credit and financial products played in it, in the paths of financial contagion that propagated the initial shock, and in the way authorities intervened to stabilize markets. In this post, we describe these developments and note the parallels with modern financial crises.
Prime money market funds (MMFs) are vulnerable to runs. This was dramatically illustrated in September 2008 and March 2020, when massive outflows from prime MMFs worsened stress in the short-term funding markets and eased only after taxpayer-supported interventions by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve. In this post, we describe how mechanisms like swing pricing that charge a price for liquidity can reduce the vulnerability of prime MMFs without triggering preemptive runs.
Daily take-up at the overnight reverse repo (ON RRP) facility increased from less than $1 billion in early March 2021 to just under $2 trillion on December 31, 2021. In the second post in this series, we take a closer look at this important tool in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy implementation framework and discuss the factors behind the recent increase in volume.
The term spread is the difference between interest rates on short- and long-dated government securities. It is often referred to as a predictor of the business cycle. In particular, inversions of the yield curve—a negative term spread—are considered an early warning sign. Such inversions typically receive a lot of attention in policy debates when they […]