Specialization in Banking
Using highly detailed data on the loan portfolios of large U.S. banks, we document that these banks "specialize" by concentrating their lending disproportionately into one industry. This specialization improves a bank’s industry-specific knowledge and allows it to offer generous loan terms to borrowers, especially to firms with access to alternate sources of funding and during periods of greater nonbank lending. Superior industry-specific knowledge is further reflected in better loan and, ultimately, bank performance. Banks concentrate more on their primary industry in times of instability ...
Local banks, credit supply, and house prices
I study the effects of an increase in the supply of local mortgage credit on local house prices and employment by exploiting a natural experiment from Switzerland. In mid-2008, losses in U.S. security holdings triggered a migration of dissatisfied retail customers from a large, universal bank, UBS, to homogeneous local mortgage lenders. Mortgage lenders located close to UBS branches experienced larger inflows of deposits, regardless of their investment opportunities. Using variation in the geographic distance between UBS branches and local mortgage lenders as an instrument for deposit growth, ...
Banking System Vulnerability: Annual Update
A key part of understanding the stability of the U.S. financial system is to monitor leverage and funding risks in the financial sector and the way in which these vulnerabilities interact to amplify negative shocks. In this post, we provide an update of four analytical models, introduced in a Liberty Street Economics post last year, that aim to capture different aspects of banking system vulnerability. Since their introduction, vulnerabilities as indicated by these models have increased moderately, continuing the slow but steady upward trend that started around 2016. Despite the recent ...
The Myth of the Lead Arranger’s Share
We make use of Shared National Credit Program (SNC) data to examine syndicated loans in which the lead arranger retains no stake. We find that the lead arranger sells its entire loan share for 27 percent of term loans and 48 percent of Term B loans, typically shortly after syndication. In contrast to existing asymmetric information theories on the role of the lead share, we find that loans that are sold are less likely to become non-performing in the future. This result is robust to several different measures of loan performance and is reflected in subsequent secondary market prices. We ...
How Bad Are Weather Disasters for Banks?
Not very. We find that weather disasters over the last quarter century had insignificant or small effects on U.S. banks’ performance. This stability seems endogenous rather than a mere reflection of federal aid. Disasters increase loan demand, which offsets losses and actually boosts profits at larger banks. Local banks tend to avoid mortgage lending where floods are more common than official flood maps would predict, suggesting that local knowledge may also mitigate disaster impacts.
Banking the Unbanked: The Past and Future of the Free Checking Account
About one in twenty American households are unbanked (meaning they do not have a demand deposit or checking account) and many more are underbanked (meaning they do not have the range of bank-provided financial services they need). Unbanked and underbanked households are more likely to be lower-income households and households of color. Inadequate access to financial services pushes the unbanked to use high-cost alternatives for their transactional needs and can also hinder access to credit when households need it. That, in turn, can have adverse effects on the financial health, educational ...
How Has COVID-19 Affected Banking System Vulnerability?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in banks’ balance sheets. To understand how these changes have affected the stability of the U.S. banking system, we provide an update of four analytical models that aim to capture different aspects of banking system vulnerability.
Understanding the Linkages between Climate Change and Inequality in the United States
We conduct a review of the existing academic literature to outline possible links between climate change and inequality in the United States. First, researchers have shown that the impact of both physical and transition risks may be uneven across location, income, race, and age. This is driven by a region’s geography as well as its adaptation capabilities. Second, measures that individuals and governments take to adapt to climate change and transition to lower emissions risk increasing inequality. Finally, while federal aid and insurance coverage can mitigate the direct impact of physical ...
The Costs of Corporate Debt Overhang Following the COVID-19 Outbreak
Leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, there were growing concerns about corporate sector indebtedness. High levels of borrowing may give rise to a “debt overhang” problem, particularly during downturns, whereby firms forego good investment opportunities because of an inability to raise additional funding. In this post, we show that firms with high levels of borrowing at the onset of the Great Recession underperformed in the following years, compared to similar—but less indebted—firms. These findings, together with early data on the revenue contractions following the COVID-19 outbreak, ...
Financial frictions, real estate collateral, and small firm activity in Europe
We observe significant heterogeneity in the correlation between changes in house prices and the growth of small firms across certain countries in Europe. We find that, overall, the correlation is far greater in Southern Europe than in Northern Europe. Using a simple model, we show that this heterogeneity may relate to financial frictions in a country. We confirm the model?s propositions in a number of empirical analyses for the following countries in Northern and Southern Europe: the United Kingdom, Norway, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Small firms in countries with higher financial ...