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11 posts on "Stephan Luck"
July 13, 2023

Inflating Away the Debt: The Debt‑Inflation Channel of German Hyperinflation

Photo: In the money delivery office of the Reichsbank in Berlin: table full of money notes with men looking over. Sign says Rauchen verboten, October 1923; source: Wikimedia.

The recent rise in price pressures around the world has reignited interest in understanding how inflation transmits to the real economy. Economists have long recognized that unexpected surges of inflation can redistribute wealth from creditors to debtors when debt contracts are written in nominal terms (see, for example, Fisher 1933). If debtors are financially constrained, this redistribution can affect real economic activity by relaxing financing constraints. This mechanism, which we call the debt-inflation channel, is well understood theoretically (for example, Gomes, Jermann, and Schmid 2016), but there is limited empirical evidence to substantiate it. In this post, we discuss new insights from one of the key events in monetary history: the Great German Inflation of 1919-23. Because this case of inflation was both surprising and extremely high, Germany’s experience helps shed light on how high inflation impacts firms’ economic activity through the erosion of their nominal debt burdens. These insights are based on a recently released research paper.

May 11, 2023

Bank Funding during the Current Monetary Policy Tightening Cycle

decorative photo: image of the outside of a silicon valley bank building.

Recent events have highlighted the importance of understanding the distribution and composition of funding across banks. Market participants have been paying particular attention to the overall decline of deposit funding in the U.S. banking system as well as the reallocation of deposits within the banking sector. In this post, we describe changes in bank funding structure since the onset of monetary policy tightening, with a particular focus on developments through March 2023.

April 11, 2023

Deposit Betas: Up, Up, and Away?

decorative image: close up shot of bank deposit slip

Deposits make up an $18 trillion market that is simultaneously the main source of bank funding and a critical tool for households’ financial management. In a prior post, we explored how deposit pricing was changing slowly in response to higher interest rates as of 2022:Q2, as measured by a “deposit beta” capturing the pass-through of the federal funds rate to deposit rates. In this post, we extend our analysis through 2022:Q4 and observe a continued rise in deposit betas to levels not seen since prior to the global financial crisis. In addition, we explore variation across deposit categories to better understand banks’ funding strategies as well as depositors’ investment opportunities. We show that while regular deposit funding declines, banks substitute towards more rate-sensitive forms of finance such as time deposits and other forms of borrowing such as funding from Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs).

Posted at 10:00 am in Banks, Fed Funds | Permalink
April 7, 2023

How Do Interest Rates (and Depositors) Impact Measures of Bank Value?

Decorative photo: magnifying glass with percentage signs.

The rapid rise in interest rates across the yield curve has increased the broader public’s interest in the exposure embedded in bank balance sheets and in depositor behavior more generally. In this post, we consider a simple illustration of the potential impact of higher interest rates on measures of bank franchise value.

March 6, 2023

Insights from Newly Digitized Banking Data, 1867‑1904

decorative photo: 19th century bank building with roman columns and resources/liabilities data superimposed.

Call reports—regulatory filings in which commercial banks report their assets, liabilities, income, and other information—are one of the most-used data sources in banking and finance. Though call reports were collected as far back as 1867, the underlying data are only easily accessible for the recent past: the mid-1980s onward in the case of the FDIC’s FFIEC call reports. To help researchers look farther back in time, we’ve begun creating a complete digital record of this “missing” call report data; this data release covers 1867 through 1904, the bulk of the National Banking Era. Here, we describe the digitization process and highlight some of the interesting features of that era from a research perspective.

February 3, 2023

How the LIBOR Transition Affects the Supply of Revolving Credit

Photo of two sticky notes: one with LIbor crossed out, the other with SOFR checked. Concept of London Interbank Offered Rate being discontinued and succeeded by SOFR - Secured Overnight Financing Rate - as the base rate for loan and swap financial products.

In the United States, most commercial and industrial (C&I) lending takes the form of revolving lines of credit, known as revolvers or credit lines. For decades, like other U.S. C&I loans, credit lines were typically indexed to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). However, since 2022, the U.S. and other developed-market economies have transitioned from credit-sensitive reference rates such as LIBOR to new risk-free rates, including the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR). This post, based on a recent New York Fed Staff Report, explores how the provision of revolving credit is likely to change as a result of the transition to a new reference rate.

February 17, 2022

How (Un‑)Informed Are Depositors in a Banking Panic? A Lesson from History

Photo: Depositors clamor to withdraw their savings from a bank in Berlin, 13 July 1931

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.

October 13, 2020

Weathering the Storm: Who Can Access Credit in a Pandemic?

Credit enables firms to weather temporary disruptions in their business that may impair their cash flow and limit their ability to meet commitments to suppliers and employees. The onset of the COVID recession sparked a massive increase in bank credit, largely driven by firms drawing on pre-committed credit lines. In this post, which is based on a recent Staff Report, we investigate which firms were able to tap into bank credit to help sustain their business over the ensuing downturn.

October 5, 2020

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.

Posted at 7:00 am in Bank Capital, Banks, Pandemic | Permalink
August 10, 2020

Implications of the COVID‑19 Disruption for Corporate Leverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic disruptions among U.S. corporations. In this post, we study the preliminary impact of these disruptions on the cash flow and leverage of public U.S. corporations using public filings through April 2020. We find that the pandemic had a negative impact on cash flow while also reducing corporations’ interest expenses. However, the cash flow shock far outpaced the benefits of lower interest payments, especially in industries that were disproportionately levered. Looking ahead, we find that a sizable share of U.S. corporations have interest expense greater than cash flow, raising concerns about those corporations’ ability to endure further liquidity shocks.

Posted at 7:00 am in Bank Capital, Pandemic | Permalink
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