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262 posts on "Financial Markets"
June 29, 2022

What Is Corporate Bond Market Distress?

Photo: Ticker sign with the word Bond lit up.

Corporate bonds are a key source of funding for U.S. non-financial corporations and a key investment security for insurance companies, pension funds, and mutual funds. Distress in the corporate bond market can thus both impair access to credit for corporate borrowers and reduce investment opportunities for key financial sub-sectors. In a February 2021 Liberty Street Economics post, we introduced a unified measure of corporate bond market distress, the Corporate Bond Market Distress Index (CMDI), then followed up in early June 2022 with a look at how corporate bond market functioning evolved over 2022 in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the tightening of U.S. monetary policy. Today we are launching the CMDI as a regularly produced data series, with new readings to be published each month. In this post, we describe what constitutes corporate bond market distress, motivate the construction of the CMDI, and argue that secondary market measures alone are insufficient to capture market functioning.

June 1, 2022

How Is the Corporate Bond Market Responding to Financial Market Volatility?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine increased uncertainty around the world. Although most U.S. companies have limited direct exposure to Ukrainian and Russian trading partners, increased global uncertainty may still have an indirect effect on funding conditions through tightening financial conditions. In this post, we examine how conditions in the U.S. corporate bond market have evolved since the start of the year through the lens of the U.S. Corporate Bond Market Distress Index (CMDI).  As described in a previous Liberty Street Economics post, the index quantifies joint dislocations in the primary and secondary corporate bond markets and can thus serve as an early warning signal to detect financial market dysfunction. The index has risen sharply from historically low levels before the invasion of Ukraine, peaking on March 19, but appears to have stabilized around the median historical level.

February 16, 2022

The Making of Fallen Angels—and What QE and Credit Rating Agencies Have to Do with It

Riskier firms typically borrow at higher rates than safer firms because investors require compensation for taking on more risk. However, since 2009 this relationship has been turned on its head in the massive BBB corporate bond market, with risky BBB-rated firms borrowing at lower rates than their safer BBB-rated peers. The resulting risk materialized in an unprecedented wave of “fallen angels” (or firms downgraded below the BBB investment-grade threshold) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this post, based on a related Staff Report, we claim that this anomaly has been driven by a combination of factors: a boost in investor demand for investment-grade bonds associated with the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) and sluggish adjustment of credit ratings for risky BBB issuers.

December 20, 2021

Do the Fed’s International Dollar Liquidity Facilities Affect Offshore Dollar Funding Markets and Credit?

At the outbreak of the pandemic, in March 2020, the Federal Reserve implemented a suite of facilities, including two associated with international dollar liquidity—the central bank swap lines and the Foreign International Monetary Authorities (FIMA) repo facility—to provide dollar liquidity. This post discusses recent evidence showing the contributions of these facilities to financial and economic stability, highlighting evidence from recent research by Goldberg and Ravazzolo (December 2021).

December 3, 2021

At the New York Fed: Seventh Annual Conference on the U.S. Treasury Market

On November 17, 2021, the New York Fed hosted the seventh annual Conference on the U.S. Treasury Market. The one-day event, held virtually, was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The agenda featured one panel on the effects of sudden changes in investor positioning, and two panels discussing proposals to strengthen Treasury market resiliency and improve market intermediation from various public and private sector perspectives. Speeches touched on recommendations from a recent progress report by the Inter-Agency Working Group for Treasury Market Surveillance (IAWG), and efforts to improve market resilience by reforming market structure and regulation. Finally, a fireside chat discussed the importance of increasing diversity of experiences and perspectives within the public and private sectors.

November 23, 2021

Is Higher Financial Stress Lurking around the Corner for China?

Despite China’s tighter financial policies and the Evergrande troubles, Chinese financial stress measures have been remarkably stable around average levels. Chinese financial conditions, though, are affected by global markets, making it likely that low foreign financial stress conditions are blurring the state of Chinese financial markets. In this post, we parse out the domestic component of a Chinese financial stress measure to evaluate the downside risk to future economic activity.

June 30, 2021

Banking the Unbanked: The Past and Future of the Free Checking Account

Banking the Unbanked: The Past and Future of the Free Checking Account

About one in twenty American households are unbanked (meaning they do not have a demand deposit or checking account) and many more are underbanked (meaning they do not have the range of bank-provided financial services they need). Unbanked and underbanked households are more likely to be lower-income households and households of color. Inadequate access to financial services pushes the unbanked to use high-cost alternatives for their transactional needs and can also hinder access to credit when households need it. That, in turn, can have adverse effects on the financial health, educational opportunities, and welfare of unbanked households, thereby aggravating economic inequality. Why is access to financial services so uneven? The roots to part of this problem are historical, and in this post we will look back four decades to changes in regulation, shifts in the ownership structure of retail financial services, and the decline of free/low-cost checking accounts in the United States to search out a few of the contributory factors.

May 26, 2021

The Overnight Drift in U.S. Equity Returns

Since the advent of electronic trading in the late 1990s, S&P 500 futures have traded close to 24 hours a day. In this post, which draws on our recent Staff Report, we document that holding U.S. equity futures overnight has earned a large positive return during the opening hours of European markets. The largest positive returns in the 1998–2019 sample have accrued between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. U.S. Eastern time—the opening of European stock markets—and averaged 3.6 percent on an annualized basis, a phenomenon we call the overnight drift.

March 24, 2021

Did Dealers Fail to Make Markets during the Pandemic?

Sarkar and coauthors liquidity provision by dealers in several important financial markets during the COVID-19 pandemic: how much was provided, possible causes of any shortfalls, and the effects of the Federal Reserve’s actions to support the economy.

March 22, 2021

The Persistent Compression of the Breakeven Inflation Curve

Breakeven inflation, defined as the difference in the yield of a nominal Treasury security and a Treasury inflation protected security (TIPS) of the same maturity, is closely watched by market participants and policymakers alike. Breakeven inflation rates provide a signal about the expected path of inflation as perceived by market participants although they are also affected by risk and liquidity premia. In this post, we scrutinize the dynamics of breakeven inflation, highlighting some intriguing behavior which has persisted for a number of years and even through the pandemic. In particular, we document a substantial downward shift in the level of breakeven inflation as well as a marked flattening of the breakeven inflation curve.

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