Bank Profits and Shareholder Payouts: The Repurchases Cycle
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve placed restrictions on large banks’ dividends and share repurchases. These restrictions were intended to enhance banks’ resiliency by bolstering their capital in light of the very uncertain economic environment and concerns that banks might face very large losses should bad-case scenarios come to pass. When it became clear that the outlook had improved and that the losses banks experienced were unlikely to threaten their stability, the Federal Reserve removed these restrictions. In this post, we look at what happened to large banks’ dividends and share repurchases during and after the pandemic-era restrictions, tracking these shareholder payouts relative to bank profits to understand how these payments impacted large banks’ capital during this period.
Banking System Vulnerability: 2022 Update
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.
Climate Change and Financial Stability: The Weather Channel
Climate change could affect banks and the financial systems they anchor through various channels: increasingly extreme weather is one (Financial Stability Board, Basel Committee on Bank Supervision). In our recent staff report, we size up this channel by studying how U.S. banks, large and small, fared against disasters past. We find even the most destructive disasters had insignificant or small effects on bank stability and small and positive effects on bank income. We conjecture that recovery lending after disasters helps stabilize larger banks while smaller, local banks’ knowledge of “unmarked” (flood) hazards may help them navigate disaster risk. Federal disaster aid seems not to act as a bank stabilizer.
How (Un-)Informed Are Depositors in a Banking Panic? A Lesson from History
How informed or uninformed are bank depositors in a banking crisis? Can depositors anticipate which banks will fail? Understanding the behavior of depositors in financial crises is key to evaluating the policy measures, such as deposit insurance, designed to prevent them. But this is difficult in modern settings. The fact that bank runs are rare and deposit insurance universal implies that it is rare to be able to observe how depositors would behave in absence of the policy. Hence, as empiricists, we are lacking the counterfactual of depositor behavior during a run that is undistorted by the policy. In this blog post and the staff report on which it is based, we go back in history and study a bank run that took place in Germany in 1931 in the absence of deposit insurance for insight.
Up on Main Street
The Main Street Lending Program was the last of the facilities launched by the Fed and Treasury to support the flow of credit during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21. The others primarily targeted Wall Street borrowers; Main Street was for smaller firms that rely more on banks for credit. It was a complicated program that worked by purchasing loans and sharing risk with lenders. Despite its delayed launch, Main Street purchased more debt than any other facility and was accelerating when it closed in January 2021. This post first locates Main Street in the constellation of COVID-19 credit programs, then looks in detail at its design and usage with an eye toward any future programs.
The Banking Industry and COVID-19: Lifeline or Life Support?
By many measures the U.S. banking industry entered 2020 in a robust state. But the widespread outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and the associated economic disruptions have caused unemployment to skyrocket and many businesses to suspend or significantly reduce operations. In this post, we consider the implications of the pandemic for the stability of the banking sector, including the potential impact of dividend suspensions on bank capital ratios and the use of banks’ regulatory capital buffers.
The Primary Dealer Credit Facility
On March 17, 2020, the Federal Reserve announced that it would re-establish the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) to allow primary dealers to support smooth market functioning and facilitate the availability of credit to businesses and households. The PDCF started offering overnight and term funding with maturities of up to ninety days on March 20. It will be in place for at least six months and may be extended as conditions warrant. In this post, we provide an overview of the PDCF and its usage to date.
What Happens When Regulatory Capital Is Marked to Market?
Minimum equity capital requirements are a key part of bank regulation. But there is little agreement about the right way to measure regulatory capital. One of the key debates is the extent to which capital ratios should be based on current market values rather than historical “accrual” values of assets and liabilities. In a new research paper, we investigate the effects of a recent regulatory change that ties regulatory capital directly to the market value of the securities portfolio for some banks.
Are BHCs Mimicking the Fed’s Stress Test Results?
Angela Deng, Beverly Hirtle, and Anna Kovner In March, the Federal Reserve and thirty-one large bank holding companies (BHCs) disclosed their annual Dodd-Frank Act stress test (DFAST) results. This is the third year in which both the BHCs and the Fed have published their projections. In a previous post, we looked at whether the Fed’s […]
Bank Capital and Risk: Cautionary or Precautionary?
Do riskier banks have more capital? Banking companies with more equity capital are better protected against failure, all else equal, because they can absorb more losses before becoming insolvent.