Since the height of the financial crisis, each year the Federal Reserve has disclosed the results of its stress tests, and stress testing has become “business as usual” in the U.S. banking industry. In this post, we assess whether market participants find supervisory stress test disclosures informative. After half a decade, do the disclosures still contain information that the market finds valuable?
Ahead of the Federal Reserve’s release on Wednesday of 2015 bank stress tests results, we’ve seen a spike in traffic to a piece in our archive that offers a primer on the annual Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) process and background on its role as a tool in the Fed’s bank supervisory arsenal.
In contemplating the recent financial panic, it is easy to get lost in the weeds of repo markets and asset-backed securities and lose sight of the fact that, at the fundamental level, the panic was about inadequate information. Investors were uncertain about what particular assets were worth, and they were uncertain about which banks were exposed to those assets and to what degree. They were also uncertain about how the government would handle undercapitalized banks. It was against this background that the Treasury announced in February 2009 that the nineteen largest U.S. bank holding companies would be subject to an unprecedented stress test to determine if the banks had sufficient capital to survive and maintain lending in the event of a worse-than-expected recession. In this post, I discuss a recent New York Fed staff report that I wrote with Stavros Peristiani and Vanessa Savino that provides evidence that the stress test supplied new information to the market, and thus may have helped quell the panic.