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273 posts on "Liberty Street Economics"
April 10, 2024

A Retrospective on the Life Insurance Sector after the Failure of Silicon Valley Bank

Decorative photo of a life insurance policy with a magnifying glass enlarging the words "Life Insurance".

Following the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, the stock prices of U.S banks fell amid concerns about the exposure of the banking sector to interest rate risk. Thus, between March 8 and March 15, 2023, the S&P 500 Bank index dropped 12.8 percent relative to S&P 500 returns (see right panel of the chart below). The stock prices of insurance companies tumbled as well, with the S&P 500 Insurance index losing 6.4 percent relative to S&P 500 returns over the same time interval (see the center panel below). Yet, insurance companies’ direct exposure to the three failed banks (Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate, and Signature Bank) through debt and equity was modest. In this post, we examine the possible factors behind the reaction of insurance investors to the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.

Posted at 7:00 am in Financial Institutions | Permalink
April 8, 2024

Internal Liquidity’s Value in a Financial Crisis

Decorative image of a drop of water hitting a pool of water with dollar bills under the water.

A classic question for U.S. financial firms is whether to organize themselves as entities that are affiliated with a bank-holding company (BHC). This affiliation brings benefits, such as access to liquidity from other affiliated entities, as well as costs, particularly a larger regulatory burden. This post highlights the results from a recent Staff Report that sheds light on this tradeoff. This work uses confidential data on the population of broker-dealers to study the benefits of being affiliated with a BHC, with a focus on the global financial crisis (GFC). The analysis reveals that affiliation with a BHC makes broker-dealers more resilient to the aggregate liquidity shocks that prevailed during the GFC. This results in these broker-dealers being more willing to hold riskier securities on their balance sheet relative to broker-dealers that are not affiliated with a BHC.

April 3, 2024

Physical Climate Risk and Insurers

Photo: House destroyed by the passage of a hurricane in Florida.

As the frequency and severity of natural disasters increase with climate change, insurance—the main tool for households and businesses to hedge natural disaster risks—becomes increasingly important. Can the insurance sector withstand the stress of climate change? To answer this question, it is necessary to first understand insurers’ exposure to physical climate risk, that is, risks coming from physical manifestations of climate change, such as natural disasters. In this post, based on our recent staff report, we construct a novel factor to measure the aggregate physical climate risk in the financial market and discuss its applications, including the assessment of insurers’ exposure to climate risk and the expected capital shortfall of insurers under climate stress scenarios.

March 27, 2024

Deposits and the March 2023 Banking Crisis—A Retrospective

Photo: Man depositing check by phone while sitting at a table in a restaurant

In this post, we evaluate how deposits have evolved over the latter portion of the current monetary policy tightening cycle. We find that while deposit betas have continued to rise, they did not accelerate following the bank runs in March 2023. In addition, while overall deposit funding has remained stable, we find that the banks most affected by the March 2023 events are offering higher deposit rates and are growing their deposit funding relative to the broader banking industry.

Posted at 7:00 am in Banks | Permalink
March 26, 2024

What Happens to U.S. Activity and Inflation if China’s Property Sector Leads to a Crisis?

Photo: Construction site of three tall building towers with threes crane

A previous post explored the potential implications for U.S. growth and inflation of a manufacturing-led boom in China. This post considers spillovers to the U.S. from a downside scenario, one in which China’s ongoing property sector slump takes another leg down and precipitates an economic hard landing and financial crisis.

March 8, 2024

Stablecoins and Crypto Shocks

Decorative photo of computer board with "stable coin" letters embedded.

In a previous post, we described the rapid growth of the stablecoin market over the past few years and then discussed the TerraUSD stablecoin run of May 2022. The TerraUSD run, however, is not the only episode of instability experienced by a stablecoin. Other noteworthy incidents include the June 2021 run on IRON and, more recently, the de-pegging of USD Coin’s secondary market price from $1.00 to $0.88 upon the failure of Silicon Valley Bank in March 2023. In this post, based on our recent staff report, we consider the following questions: Do stablecoin investors react to broad-based shocks in the crypto asset industry? Do the investors run from the entire stablecoin industry, or do they engage in a flight to safer stablecoins? We conclude with some high-level discussion points on potential regulations of stablecoins. 

March 7, 2024

Will the Moderation in Wage Growth Continue?  

Photo of women in an electronics Factory Worker in Blue Work Coat and Protective Glasses is Assembling Smartphones with Screwdriver. High Tech Factory Facility with more Employees in the Background.

Wage growth has moderated notably following its post-pandemic surge, but it remains strong compared to the wage growth prevailing during the low-inflation pre-COVID years. Will the moderation continue, or will it stall? And what does it say about the current state of the labor market? In this post, we use our own measure of wage growth persistence – called Trend Wage Inflation (TWIn in short) – to look at these questions. Our main finding is that, after a rapid decline from 7 percent at its peak in late 2021 to around 5 percent in early 2023, TWin has changed little in recent months, indicating that the moderation in nominal wage growth may have stalled. We also show that our measure of trend wage inflation and labor market tightness comove very closely. Hence, the recent behavior of TWIn is consistent with a still-tight labor market.  

Posted at 12:00 pm in Employment, Inflation, Labor Market | Permalink
March 4, 2024

Global Supply Chains and U.S. Import Price Inflation

decorative photo of several cargo ships in a harbor. One is moving out of port.

Inflation around the world increased dramatically with the reopening of economies following COVID-19. After reaching a peak of 11 percent in the second quarter of 2021, world trade prices dropped by more than five percentage points by the middle of 2023. U.S. import prices followed a similar pattern, albeit with a lower peak and a deeper trough. In a new study, we investigate what drove these price movements by using information on the prices charged for products shipped from fifty-two exporters to fifty-two importers, comprising more than twenty-five million trade flows. We uncover several patterns in the data: (i) From 2021:Q1 to 2022:Q2, almost all of the growth in U.S. import prices can be attributed to global factors, that is, trends present in most countries; (ii) at the end of 2022, U.S. import price inflation started to be driven by U.S. demand factors; (iii) in 2023, foreign suppliers to the U.S. market caught up with demand and account for the decline in import price inflation, with a significant role played by China. 

February 12, 2024

Measuring Treasury Market Depth

Decorative Image: image of 3 United States Savings Bonds.

A commonly used measure of market liquidity is market depth, which refers to the quantity of securities market participants are willing to buy or sell at particular prices. The market depth of U.S. Treasury securities, in particular, is assessed in many analyses of market functioning, including this Liberty Street Economics post on liquidity in 2023, this article on market functioning in March 2020, and this paper on liquidity after the Global Financial Crisis. In this post, we review the many measurement decisions that go into depth calculations and show that inferences about the evolution of Treasury market depth, and hence liquidity, are largely invariant with respect to these decisions. 

Posted at 7:00 am in Financial Markets | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 7, 2024

Racial and Ethnic Wealth Inequality in the Post‑Pandemic Era

Editor’s note: The DFA data upon which this post was based show a decline in the aggregate real wealth of Black households after 2019, as reported here. The authors are currently reviewing the data to determine whether a similar pattern exists for the typical Black household. (March 1, 3:47 pm)

Decorative illustration: 3 people on a pedestal. Whose net worth increased?

Wealth is unevenly distributed across racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In this first post in a two-part series on wealth inequality, we use the Distributional Financial Accounts (DFA) to document these disparities between Black, Hispanic, and white households from the first quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2023 for wealth and a variety of asset and liability categories. We find that these disparities have been exacerbated since the pandemic, likely due to rapid growth in the financial assets more often held by white individuals.

About the Blog

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.

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