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Several academic papers have documented investors’ willingness to pay a premium to hold money-like assets and focused on its implications for financial stability. In a New York Fed staff report, we estimate such premium using a quasi-natural experiment, the recent reform of the money market fund (MMF) industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The financial crisis of 2007-08 and the ensuing recession, the most severe since the 1930s, prompted a wave of regulatory reforms: tighter bank capital and liquidity rules, new failed bank resolution procedures, a stand-alone consumer protection agency, greater transparency in money market funds, central clearing of derivatives, and others as well. As these reforms have gradually taken effect, a healthy debate has emerged in the policy and academic communities over their efficacy in achieving their intended goals and possible unintended consequences.
The global financial crisis, and the ensuing Dodd-Frank Act, identified size and complexity as determinants of banks’ systemic importance, increasing the potential risks to financial stability. While it’s known that big banks haven’t shrunk, the question that remains is: have they simplified? In this post, we show that while the largest U.S. bank holding companies (BHCs) have somewhat simplified their organizational structures, they remain very complex. The industries spanned by entities within the BHCs have shifted more than they have declined, and the countries in which some large BHCs have entities still include numerous “secrecy” or tax-haven locations.
One goal of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 was to end “too big to fail.” Toward that goal, the Act required systemically important financial institutions to submit detailed plans for an orderly resolution (“living wills”) and authorized the FDIC to create an alternative resolution procedure. In response, the FDIC has developed a “single point of entry” (SPOE) strategy, under which healthy parent companies bear the losses of their failing subsidiaries. Since SPOE makes the parent company responsible for subsidiaries’ losses, we would expect that parents have become riskier, relative to their subsidiaries, since the announcement of the SPOE strategy in December 2013. Do bond raters and investors share this view?
It is widely said that a lack of “skin in the game” would distort lenders’ incentives and cause a moral hazard problem, that is, excessive risk‑taking. If so, does more skin in the game—in the form of extended liability—reduce bankers’ risk‑taking? In order to examine this question, we investigate historical data prior to the Great Depression, when bank owners’ liability for losses in the event of bank failure differed by state and primary regulator. This post describes our preliminary findings.
Nicola Cetorelli, B. Gerard Dages, Paul Licari, and Afshin Taber
The Committee on the Global Financial System, made up of senior officials from central banks around the world and chaired by New York Fed President William Dudley, recently released a report on “Structural Changes in Banking after the Crisis.” The report includes findings from a wide-ranging study documenting the significant structural adjustments in banking systems around the world in response to regulatory, technological, and market changes after the crisis, while also assessing their implications for financial stability, credit provision, and capital markets activity. It includes a new banking database spanning over twenty-one countries from 2000 to 2016 that could serve as a valuable reference for further analysis. Overall, the study concludes that the changed regulatory and market environment since the crisis has led banks to alter their business models and balance sheets in ways that make them more resilient but also less profitable, while continuing their role as intermediaries providing financial services to the real economy.
Kenneth D. Garbade, Frank M. Keane, and Radhika Mithal
The Treasury Market Practices Group (TMPG) was formed in February 2007 in response to the appearance of some questionable trading practices in the secondary market for U.S. Treasury securities. (A history of the origins of the TMPG is available here.) Left unaddressed, the practices threatened to harm the efficiency and integrity of an essential global benchmark market. The Group responded by identifying and publicizing “best practices” in trading Treasury securities—a statement of behavioral norms intended to maintain a level and competitive playing field for all market participants. The Group’s focus expanded in 2008 to include market architecture issues, and again in 2010 to include the federal agency debt and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) markets.
In a previous post, I documented that much of the expansion into nontraditional activities by U.S. banks began well before the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, the legislation that repealed much of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. The historical record actually contains many prior instances of the Glass-Steagall restrictions being circumvented, with nonbank firms allowed to operate as financial conglomerates and engage in activities that go beyond traditional banking. These broad industry dynamics might indicate that the business of banking tends to expand firm boundaries beyond a traditional—“boring”—perimeter.
Since the global financial crisis and Great Recession, many critics have called for regulatory and legislative reforms to restore a system of “boring” banks constrained to traditional banking activities like deposit taking and lending. The narrative underlying this argument holds that the partial repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act enabled banks to expand into nontraditional activities such as securities trading and underwriting, thereby contributing to the financial crisis some ten years later. The implication is that if we could restore the Glass-Steagall Act, banks would become boring once again, and financial stability would be enhanced. The reality, however, may be more complex; an in-depth look “under the hood” of banks’ organizational structure over the past forty years shows that bank holding companies (BHCs) began expanding into those financial activities in the early 1980s and that this expansion was, in fact, nearly complete by 1999.
The 2007-09 financial crisis highlighted weaknesses in the over‑the‑counter (OTC) derivatives markets and the increased risk of contagion due to the interconnectedness of market participants in these markets. As a response, the global regulatory community introduced a number of reforms to both the market structure and the regulatory environment. The intent of these innovations was to improve the functioning of OTC markets but some market participants have suggested that some of the new regulations may have had unintended consequences. In this post, we discuss some key takeaways from a recent two-day conference on “Over‑the‑Counter Derivatives and Recent Regulatory Changes,” where policymakers, academics, practitioners, and other experts convened to discuss the evolution of OTC derivatives markets after the crisis.
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