The bank failures that occurred in March 2023 highlighted how unrealized losses on securities can make banks vulnerable to a sudden loss of funding. This risk, which materialized following the rapid rise in interest rates that began in early 2022, underscores the importance of monitoring the vulnerabilities of the banking system. In this post, as in previous years, we provide an update of four analytical models aimed at capturing different aspects of vulnerability of the U.S. banking system, with data through the second quarter of 2023. In addition, we discuss changes made to the methodology based on the lessons from March 2023 and assess how the system-level vulnerability has evolved.
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.
The first post in this series discussed the potential exposure of banks to the open-end funds sector, by virtue of commonalities in asset holdings that expose banks to balance sheet losses in the event of an asset fire sale by these funds. In this post, we summarize the findings reported in a recent paper of ours, in which we expand the analysis to consider a broad cross section of non-bank financial institution (NBFI) segments. We unveil an innovative monitoring insight: the network of interconnections across NBFI segments and banks matters. For example, certain nonbank institutions may not have a meaningful asset overlap with banks, but their fire sales could nevertheless represent a vulnerability for banks because their assets overlap closely with other NBFIs that banks are substantially exposed to.
To assess the vulnerability of the U.S. financial system, it is important to monitor leverage and funding risks—both individually and in tandem. In this post, we provide an update of four analytical models aimed at capturing different aspects of banking system vulnerability with data through 2022:Q2, assessing how these vulnerabilities have changed since last year. The four models were introduced in a Liberty Street Economics post in 2018 and have been updated annually since then.
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.
Should open-end mutual funds experience redemption pressures, they may be forced to sell assets, thus contributing to asset price dislocations that in turn could be felt by other entities holding similar assets. This fire-sale externality is a key rationale behind proposed and implemented regulatory actions. In this post, I quantify the spillover risks from fire sales, and present some preliminary results on the potential exposure of U.S. banking institutions to asset fire sales from open-end funds.
Regulations are not written in stone. The benefits derived from them, along with the costs of compliance for affected institutions and of enforcement for regulators, are likely to evolve. When this happens, regulators may seek to modify the regulations to better suit the specific risk profiles of regulated entities. In this post, we consider the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA) passed by Congress in 2018, which eased banking regulations for smaller institutions. We focus on one regulation—the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR)—and assess how its relaxation affected newly exempt banks’ assets and liabilities, and the resilience of the banking system.
Haoyang Liu, Asani Sarkar, and coauthors study a particular aspect of MBS market disruptions by showing how a long-standing relationship between cash and forward markets broke down, in spite of dealers increasing the provision of liquidity. The analysis also highlights an innovative response by the Federal Reserve that seemed to have helped to normalize market functioning.
On March 23, the Open Market Trading Desk (the Desk) at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York initiated plans to purchase agency commercial mortgage-backed securities (agency CMBS) at the direction of the FOMC in order to support smooth market functioning of the markets for these securities. This post describes the deterioration in market conditions that led to agency CMBS purchases, how the Desk conducts these operations, and how market functioning has improved since the start of the purchase operations.
Rising nonfinancial corporate business leverage, especially for riskier “high-yield” firms, has recently received increased public and supervisory scrutiny. For example, the Federal Reserve’s May 2019 Financial Stability Report notes that “growth in business debt has outpaced GDP for the past 10 years, with the most rapid growth in debt over recent years concentrated among the riskiest firms.” At the upper end of the credit spectrum, “investment-grade” firms have also increased their borrowing, while the number of higher-rated firms has decreased. In fact, there are currently only two U.S. companies rated AAA: Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. In this post, we examine recent trends in the issuance of investment-grade corporate bonds and argue that the combination of increased BAA issuance and virtually nonexistent AAA issuance both reduces the usefulness of the BAA–AAA spread as a credit risk indicator and poses a financial stability concern.