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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, 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.
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.
Catherine Chen, Marco Cipriani, Gabriele La Spada, Philip Mulder, and Neha Shah
On October 14, 2016, amendments to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule 2a-7, which governs money market mutual funds (MMFs), went into effect. The changes are designed to reduce MMFs’ susceptibility to destabilizing runs and contain two principal requirements. First, institutional prime and muni funds—but not retail or government funds—must now compute their net asset values (NAVs) using market-based factors, thereby abandoning the fixed NAV that had been a hallmark of the MMF industry. Second, all prime and muni funds must adopt a system of gates and fees on redemptions, which can be imposed under certain stress scenarios. This post studies the effect of the amendments on the size and composition of the MMF industry and, in particular, whether MMF investors shifted their assets from prime and muni funds toward government funds in anticipation of the tighter regulatory regime.
Corporate bonds are an important source of funding for public corporations in the United States. When these bonds cannot be easily traded in secondary markets or when investors cannot easily hedge their bond positions in derivatives markets, the issuance costs to corporations increase, leading to higher overall funding costs. In this post, we examine recent trends in arbitrage-based measures of liquidity in corporate bond and credit default swap (CDS) markets and evaluate potential explanations for the deterioration in these measures that occurred between the middle of 2015 and early 2016.
Asset securitization is an important source of corporate funding in capital markets. Collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) are securitization structures that allow syndicated bank lenders and bond underwriters to repackage business loans and sell them to investors as securities. CLOs are actively overseen by a collateral manager that has the responsibility to trade loans in the portfolio to benefit from gains and mitigate losses from credit exposures. Because CLOs include a diverse portfolio of loans, a single firm that commingles its lending role with the collateral management role can reap information advantages stemming from its “originate-to-distribute” activities.
The panic of 1907 was among the most severe we’ve covered in our series and also the most transformative, as it led to the creation of the Federal Reserve System. Also known as the “Knickerbocker Crisis,” the panic of 1907 shares features with the 2007-08 crisis, including “shadow banks” in the form high-flying, less-regulated trusts operating beyond the safety net of the time, and a pivotal “Lehman moment” when Knickerbocker Trust, the second-largest trust in the country, was allowed to fail after J.P. Morgan refused to save it.
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.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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