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By many measures nonfinancial corporate debt has been increasing as a share of GDP and assets since 2010. As the May Federal Reserve Financial Stability Report explained, high business debt can be a financial stability risk because heavily indebted corporations may need to cut back spending more sharply when shocks occur. Further, when businesses cannot repay their loans, financial institutions and investors incur losses. In this post, we review measures of corporate leverage in the United States. Although corporate debt has soared, concerns about debt growth are mitigated in part by higher corporate cash flows.
Nicola Cetorelli, Stephanie Clampitt, Giovanni Majnoni d’Intignano, and Valerio Vacca
To mark the 100-year anniversary of the Banca d’Italia’s New York office, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Banca d’Italia hosted a workshop on post-crisis financial regulation in November 2018. The goal of the workshop was to discuss differences in regulation between the United States and Europe (and around the globe more broadly), examine gaps in current regulations, identify challenges to be addressed, and raise awareness about the unintended consequences of regulation. The workshop included presentations by researchers from the U.S. and Europe on such topics as market liquidity, funding, and capital requirements. In this post, we present some of the findings and discussions from the workshop.
In our second post on the Lehman bankruptcy, we discussed the cost to Lehman’s creditors from having their funds tied up in bankruptcy proceedings. In this post, we focus on losses to Lehman’s customers and employees from the destruction of firm-specific assets that could not be deployed as productively with other firms. Our conclusions are based in part on what happened after bankruptcy—whether, for example, customer accounts moved to other firms or employees found jobs elsewhere. While these costs are difficult to pin down, the analysis suggests that the most notable losses were borne by mutual funds that relied on Lehman’s specialized brokerage advice and firms that employed Lehman for its equity underwriting services.
In bankruptcy, firms incur expenses for services provided by lawyers, accountants, and other professionals. Such expenses can be quite high, especially for complex resolutions. These direct costs of bankruptcy proceedings reduce a firm’s value below its fundamental level, thus constituting a “deadweight loss.” Bankruptcy also carries indirect costs, such as the loss in value of assets trapped in bankruptcy—a subject discussed in our previous post. In this post, we provide the first comprehensive estimates of the direct costs of resolving Lehman Brothers’ holding company (LBHI) and its affiliates under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and of Lehman’s broker-dealer (LBI) under the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA).
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LBHI) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008, initiating one of the largest and most complex bankruptcy proceedings in history. Recovery prospects for creditors, who submitted about $1.2 trillion of claims against the Lehman estate, were quite bleak. This week, we will publish a series of four posts that provide an assessment of the value lost to Lehman, its creditors, and other stakeholders now that the bankruptcy proceedings are winding down. Where appropriate, we also consider the liquidation of Lehman’s investment banking affiliate, which occurred in separate proceedings under the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA).
In a previous post, we argued that double liability for bank owners might not limit their risk taking, despite the extra “skin in the game,” if it also weakens depositor discipline of banks. This post, drawing on our recent working paper, looks at the interplay of those opposing forces in the late 1920s when bank liability differed across states. We find that double liability may have reduced the outflow of deposits during the crisis, but wasn’t successful in mitigating bank risk during the boom.
Nina Boyarchenko, Anna M. Costello, and Or Shachar
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.
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.
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.
Dong Beom Choi, Michael Holcomb, and Donald P. Morgan
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.
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.
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