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Author:Acharya, Viral V. 

Robust capital regulation

Banks? leverage choices represent a delicate balancing act. Credit discipline argues for more leverage, while balance-sheet opacity and ease of asset substitution argue for less. Meanwhile, regulatory safety nets promote ex post financial stability, but also create perverse incentives for banks to engage in correlated asset choices and to hold little equity capital. As a way to cope with these distorted incentives, we outline a two-tier capital framework for banks. The first tier is a regular core capital requirement that helps deter excessive risk-taking incentives. The second tier, a novel ...
Staff Reports , Paper 490

Journal Article
Cash holdings and bank compensation

The experience of the 2007-09 financial crisis has prompted much consideration of the link between the structure of compensation in financial firms and excessive risk taking by their employees. A key concern has been that compensation design rewards managers for pursuing risky strategies but fails to exact penalties for decision making that leads to bank failures, financial system disruption, government bailouts, and taxpayer losses. As a way to better align management's interests with those of other stakeholders such as creditors and taxpayers, the authors propose a cash holding requirement ...
Economic Policy Review , Issue Aug , Pages 77-83

Working Paper
Caught between Scylla and Charybdis? Regulating bank leverage when there is rent seeking and risk shifting

Banks face two moral hazard problems: asset substitution by shareholders (e.g., making risky, negative net present value loans) and managerial rent seeking (e.g., investing in inefficient ?pet? projects or simply being lazy and uninnovative). The privately-optimal level of bank leverage is neither too low nor too high: It balances effi ciently the market discipline imposed by owners of risky debt on managerial rent-seeking against the asset-substitution induced at high levels of leverage. However, when correlated bank failures can impose significant social costs, regulators may bail out bank ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1024

Dealer financial conditions and lender-of-last resort facilities

We examine the financial conditions of dealers that participated in two of the Federal Reserve?s lender-of-last-resort (LOLR) facilities--the Term Securities Lending Facility (TSLF) and the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF)--that provided liquidity against a range of assets during 2008-09. Dealers with lower equity returns and greater leverage prior to borrowing from the facilities were more likely to participate in the programs, borrow more, and--in the case of the TSLF--at higher bidding rates. Dealers with less liquid collateral on their balance sheets before the facilities were ...
Staff Reports , Paper 673

Caught between Scylla and Charybdis? Regulating bank leverage when there is rent seeking and risk shifting

We consider a model in which banking is characterized by asset substitution moral hazard and managerial underprovision of effort in loan monitoring. The privately optimal bank leverage efficiently balances the benefit of debt in providing the discipline to ensure that the bank monitors its loans against the benefit of equity in attenuating asset-substitution moral hazard. However, when correlated bank failures impose significant social costs, regulators bail out bank creditors. Anticipation of this action generates multiple equilibria, including an equilibrium featuring systemic risk, in ...
Staff Reports , Paper 469

Discussion Paper
The Making of Fallen Angels—and What QE and Credit Rating Agencies Have to Do with It

Riskier firms typically borrow at higher rates than safer firms because investors require compensation for taking on more risk. However, since 2009 this relationship has been turned on its head in the massive BBB corporate bond market, with risky BBB-rated firms borrowing at lower rates than their safer BBB-rated peers. The resulting risk materialized in an unprecedented wave of “fallen angels” (or firms downgraded below the BBB investment-grade threshold) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this post, based on a related Staff Report, we claim that this anomaly has been driven by a ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20220216a

Exorbitant Privilege? Quantitative Easing and the Bond Market Subsidy of Prospective Fallen Angels

We document capital misallocation in the U.S. investment-grade (IG) corporate bond market, driven by quantitative easing (QE). Prospective fallen angels—risky firms just above the IG rating cutoff—enjoyed subsidized bond financing since 2009, especially when the scale of QE purchases peaked and from IGfocused investors that held more securities purchased in QE programs. The benefitting firms used this privilege to fund risky acquisitions and increase market share, exploiting the sluggish adjustment of credit ratings in downgrading after M&A and adversely affecting competitors' employment ...
Staff Reports , Paper 1004

Journal Article
Robust capital regulation

Regulators and markets can find the balance sheets of large financial institutions difficult to penetrate, and they are mindful of how undercapitalization can create incentives to take on excessive risk. This study proposes a novel framework for capital regulation that addresses banks' incentives to take on excessive risk and leverage. The framework consists of a special capital account in addition to a core capital requirement. The special account would accrue to a bank's shareholders as long as the bank is solvent, but would pass to the bank's regulators?rather than its creditors?if the ...
Current Issues in Economics and Finance , Volume 18 , Issue May

Working Paper
Are banks passive liquidity backstops? deposit rates and flows during the 2007-2009 crisis

Can banks maintain their advantage as liquidity providers when they are heavily exposed to a financial crisis? The standard argument - that banks can - hinges on deposit inflows that are seeking a safe haven and provide banks with a natural hedge to fund drawn credit lines and other commitments. We shed new light on this issue by studying the behavior of bank deposit rates and inflows during the 2007-09 crisis. Our results indicate that the role of the banking system as a stabilizing liquidity insurer is not one of the passive recipient, but of an active seeker, of deposits. We find that ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 11-06

A model of liquidity hoarding and term premia in inter-bank markets

Financial crises are associated with reduced volumes and extreme levels of rates for term inter-bank loans, reflected in the one-month and three-month Libor. We explain such stress by modeling leveraged banks? precautionary demand for liquidity. Asset shocks impair a bank?s ability to roll over debt because of agency problems associated with high leverage. In turn, banks hoard liquidity and decrease term lending as their rollover risk increases over the term of the loan. High levels of short-term leverage and illiquidity of assets lead to low volumes and high rates for term borrowing. In ...
Staff Reports , Paper 498


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