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 (Un-)Informed Are Depositors in a Banking Panic? A Lesson from History
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
Climate Change and Financial Stability: The Weather Channel
Climate change could affect banks and the financial systems they anchor through various channels: increasingly extreme weather is one (Financial Stability Board, Basel Committee on Bank Supervision). In our recent staff report, we size up this channel by studying how U.S. banks, large and small, fared against disasters past. We find even the most destructive disasters had insignificant or small effects on bank stability and small and positive effects on bank income. We conjecture that recovery lending after disasters helps stabilize larger banks while smaller, local banks’ knowledge of ...
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.
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 ...
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 ...
Pandemics Change Cities: Municipal Spending and Voter Extremism in Germany, 1918-1933
We merge several historical data sets from Germany to show that influenza mortality in 1918-1920 is correlated with societal changes, as measured by municipal spending and city-level extremist voting, in the subsequent decade. First, influenza deaths are associated with lower per capita spending, especially on services consumed by the young. Second, influenza deaths are correlated with the share of votes received by extremist parties in 1932 and 1933. Our election results are robust to controlling for city spending, demographics, war-related population changes, city-level wages, and regional ...