Were Banks 'Boring' before the Repeal of Glass-Steagall?
Since the global financial crisis and Great Recession, many critics have called for regulatory and legislative reforms to restore a system of ?boring? banks constrained to traditional banking activities like deposit taking and lending. The narrative underlying this argument holds that the partial repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act enabled banks to expand into nontraditional activities such as securities trading and underwriting, thereby contributing to the financial crisis some ten years later. The implication is that if we could restore the Glass-Steagall ...
Were Banks Ever 'Boring'?
In a previous post, I documented that much of the expansion into nontraditional activities by U.S. banks began well before the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, the legislation that repealed much of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. The historical record actually contains many prior instances of the Glass-Steagall restrictions being circumvented, with nonbank firms allowed to operate as financial conglomerates and engage in activities that go beyond traditional banking. These broad industry dynamics might indicate that the business of banking tends to expand firm boundaries beyond ...
New Report Assesses Structural Changes in Global Banking
The Committee on the Global Financial System, made up of senior officials from central banks around the world and chaired by New York Fed President William Dudley, recently released a report on ?Structural Changes in Banking after the Crisis.? The report includes findings from a wide-ranging study documenting the significant structural adjustments in banking systems around the world in response to regulatory, technological, and market changes after the crisis, while also assessing their implications for financial stability, credit provision, and capital markets activity. It includes a new ...
Resolving \\"Too Big to Fail\\"
Many market participants believe that large financial institutions enjoy an implicit guarantee that the government will step in to rescue them from potential failure. These ?Too Big to Fail? (TBTF) issues became particularly salient during the 2008 crisis. From the government?s perspective, rescuing these financial institutions can be important to avoid harm to the financial system. The bailouts also artificially lower the risk borne by investors and the financing costs of big banks. The Dodd-Frank Act attempts to remove the incentive for governments to bail out banks in the first place by ...
Have the Fed Swap Lines Reduced Dollar Funding Strains during the COVID-19 Outbreak?
In March 2020, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) made changes to its swap line facilities with foreign central banks to enhance the provision of dollars to global funding markets. Because the dollar has important roles in international trade and financial markets, reducing these strains helps facilitate the supply of credit to households and businesses, both domestically and abroad. This post summarizes the changes made to central bank swap lines and shows when these changes were effective at bringing down dollar funding strains abroad.
How Fed Swap Lines Supported the U.S. Corporate Credit Market amid COVID-19 Strains
The onset of the COVID-19 shock in March 2020 brought large changes to the balance sheets of the U.S. branches of foreign banking organizations (FBOs). Most of these branches saw sizable usage of committed credit lines by U.S.-based clients, resulting in increased funding needs. In this post, we show that branches of FBOs from countries whose central banks used standing swap lines with the Federal Reserve (“standing swap central banks”—SSCBs) met their increased funding needs by accessing dollars that flowed into the United States through their foreign parent banks. This volume of ...
Outflows from Bank-Loan Funds during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant pressure on debt markets, especially those populated by riskier borrowers. The leveraged loan market, in particular, came under remarkable stress during the month of March. Bank-loan mutual funds, among the main holders of leveraged loans, suffered massive outflows that were reminiscent of the outflows they experienced during the 2008 crisis. In this post, we show that the flow sensitivity of the loan-fund industry to the COVID-19 crisis (and to negative shocks more generally) seems to be even greater than that of high-yield bond funds, which also ...
I introduce the concept of hybrid intermediaries: financial conglomerates that control a multiplicity of entity types active in the ?assembly line? process of modern financial intermediation, a system that has become known as shadow banking. The complex bank holding companies of today are the best example of hybrid intermediaries, but I argue that financial firms from the ?nonbank? space can just as easily evolve into conglomerates with similar organizational structure, thus acquiring the capability to engage in financial intermediation. I document instances of the emergence and growth of ...
Liquidity management of U.S. global banks: internal capital markets in the Great Recession
The recent crisis highlighted the importance of globally active banks in linking markets. One channel for this linkage is the liquidity management of these banks, specifically the regular flow of funds between parent banks and their affiliates in diverse foreign markets. We use the Great Recession as an opportunity to identify the balance-sheet shocks to parent banks in the United States and then explore which features of foreign affiliates are associated with protecting, for example, their status as important locations in sourcing funding or as destinations for foreign investment activity. ...
Credit market competition and the nature of firms
Empirical studies show that competition in the credit markets has important effects on the entry and growth of firms in nonfinancial industries. This paper explores the hypothesis that the availability of credit at the time of a firm's founding has a profound effect on that firm's nature. I conjecture that in times when financial capital is difficult to obtain, firms will need to be built as relatively solid organizations. However, in an environment of easily available financial capital, firms can be constituted with an intrinsically weaker structure. To test this conjecture, I use ...