What is the effect of a hike in interest rates on the economy? Building on recent research, we argue in this post that the answer to this question very much depends on how vulnerable the financial system is. We measure financial vulnerability using a novel concept—the financial stability interest rate r** (or “r-double-star”)—and show that, empirically, the economy is more sensitive to shocks when the gap between r** and current real rates is small or negative.
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 rapid rise in interest rates across the yield curve has increased the broader public’s interest in the exposure embedded in bank balance sheets and in depositor behavior more generally. In this post, we consider a simple illustration of the potential impact of higher interest rates on measures of bank franchise value.
The size of the money market fund (MMF) industry co-moves with the monetary policy cycle. In a post published in 2019, we showed that this co-movement is likely due to the stronger response of MMF yields to monetary policy tightening relative to bank deposit rates, combined with MMF shares and bank deposits being close substitutes from an investor’s perspective. In this post, we update the analysis and zoom in to the current monetary policy tightening by the Federal Reserve.
The U.S. Treasury market is one of the most liquid financial markets in the world, and Treasury bonds have long been considered a safe haven for global investors. It is often believed that Treasury bonds earn a “convenience yield,” in the sense that investors are willing to accept a lower yield on them compared to other investments with the same cash flows owing to Treasury bonds’ safety and liquidity. However, since the global financial crisis (GFC), long-maturity U.S. Treasury bonds have traded at a yield consistently above the interest rate swap rate of the same maturity. The emergence of the “negative swap spread” appears to suggest that Treasury bonds are “inconvenient,” at least relative to interest rate swaps. This post dives into this Treasury “inconvenience” premium and highlights the role of dealers’ balance sheet constraints in explaining it.
In the United States, most commercial and industrial (C&I) lending takes the form of revolving lines of credit, known as revolvers or credit lines. For decades, like other U.S. C&I loans, credit lines were typically indexed to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). However, since 2022, the U.S. and other developed-market economies have transitioned from credit-sensitive reference rates such as LIBOR to new risk-free rates, including the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR). This post, based on a recent New York Fed Staff Report, explores how the provision of revolving credit is likely to change as a result of the transition to a new reference rate.
Banks monitor borrowers after originating loans to reduce moral hazard and prevent loan losses. While monitoring represents an important activity of bank business, evidence on its effect on loan repayment is scant. In this post, which is based on our recent paper, we shed light on whether bank monitoring fosters loan repayment and to what extent it does so.
The U.S. dollar has played a preeminent role in the global economy since the second World War. It is used as a reserve currency and the currency of denomination for a large fraction of global trade and financial transactions. The status of the U.S. dollar engenders important considerations for the effectiveness of U.S. policy instruments and the functioning of global financial markets. These considerations include understanding potential factors that may alter the dominance of the U.S. dollar in the future, such as changes in the macroeconomic and policy environments or the development of new technologies and payment systems.
Will developments in technology, geopolitics, and the financial market reduce the dollar’s important roles in the global economy? This post updates prior commentary [here, here, and here], with insights about whether recent developments, such as the pandemic and the sanctions on Russia, might change the roles of the dollar. Our view is that the evidence so far points to the U.S. dollar maintaining its importance internationally. A companion post reports on the Inaugural Conference on the International Roles of the U.S. Dollar jointly organized by the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Bank of New York and held on June 16-17.