Is There a Trade-Off Between Low Bond Risk Premiums and Financial Stability?
It has been suggested that financial instability may be more likely following periods of low bond market risk premiums. The timing of past episodes of instability casts doubt upon the hypothesis that low levels of risk premiums sow the seeds of future instability.
AUTHORS: Chabot, Benjamin
Detroit’s bankruptcy: the uncharted waters of Chapter 9
On July 18, 2013, Detroit became the largest municipality to seek protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This article describes several ways in which Detroit?s bankruptcy filing has the potential to alter some of the key assumptions of municipal bond (muni) finance, and examines the market reaction to date.
AUTHORS: Amromin, Eugene; Chabot, Benjamin
Did adhering to the gold standard reduce the cost of capital?
A commonly cited benefit of the pre-World War One gold standard is that it reduced the cost of international borrowing by signaling a country?s commitment to financial probity. Using a newly constructed data set that consists of more than 55,000 monthly sovereign bond returns, we test if gold-standard adherence was negatively correlated with the cost of capital. Conditional on UK risk factors, we find no evidence that the bonds issued by countries off gold earned systematically higher excess returns than the bonds issued by countries on gold. Our results are robust to allowing betas to differ across bonds issued by countries off- and on-gold; to including proxies that capture the effect of fiscal, monetary, and trade shocks on the commitment to gold; and to controlling for the effect of membership in the British Empire.
AUTHORS: Alquist, Ron; Chabot, Benjamin
Institutions, the cost of capital, and long-run economic growth: evidence from the 19th century capital market
Late 19th century investors demanded compensation to invest in countries with poor institutional protection of property rights. Using the monthly stock returns of 1,808 firms located in 43 countries but traded in London between 1866 and 1907, we estimate the country-specific cost of capital. We find a negative relationship between institutions that protect property rights and capital costs. Firms located in countries with weak institutions were charged a premium compared to similarly risky firms located in countries with strong institutions, and this penalty appeared to be costly in terms of future growth. Countries that paid a premium for borrowing in London during this period grew more slowly after 1913 and are poorer today. We thus identify the capital market as a channel through which strong institutions promote growth.
AUTHORS: Alquist, Ron; Chabot, Benjamin
Backtesting Systemic Risk Measures During Historical Bank Runs
The measurement of systemic risk is at the forefront of economists and policymakers concerns in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. What exactly are we measuring and do any of the proposed measures perform well outside the context of the recent financial crisis? One way to address these questions is to take backtesting seriously and evaluate how useful the recently proposed measures are when applied to historical crises. Ideally, one would like to look at the pre-FDIC era for a broad enough sample of financial panics to confidently assess the robustness of systemic risk measures but pre-FDIC era balance sheet and bank stock price data were heretofore unavailable. We rectify this data shortcoming by employing a recently collected financial dataset spanning the 60 years before the introduction of deposit insurance. Our data includes many of the most severe financial panics in U.S. history. Overall we find CoVaR and SRisk to be remarkably useful in alerting regulators of systemically risky financial institutions.
AUTHORS: Brownlees, Christian ; Chabot, Benjamin; Ghysels, Eric; Kurz, Christopher J.
A History of Large-Scale Asset Purchases before the Federal Reserve
The authors find that between 1870 and 1913, large open market purchases of Treasury securities made by the U.S. Treasury Department narrowed the yield spread between Treasury bonds with high interest rate risk (the risk of an investment?s value changing on account of interest rate changes) and those with low interest rate risk.
AUTHORS: Chabot, Benjamin; Herman, Gabe
The Overnight Money Market
This video presentation provides a simple overview of the recent evolution of the U.S. overnight money market and how the Federal Reserve?s tools to implement monetary policy have evolved with the market. The visualization and narration of the money market?s main financial instruments, participants, and respective interactions are meant to simplify complex concepts and relation networks that constitute the foundation of short-term borrowing and lending in U.S. financial markets. For more details, please see the video transcript and references therein.
AUTHORS: Chabot, Benjamin; D'Amico, Stefania
Momentum Trading, Return Chasing and Predictable Crashes
We combine self-collected historical data from 1867 to 1907 with CRSP data from 1926 to 2012, to examine the risk and return over the past 140 years of one of the most popular mechanical trading strategies ? momentum. We find that momentum has earned abnormally high risk-adjusted returns ?a three factor alpha of 1 percent per month between 1927 and 2012 and 0.5 percent per month between 1867 and 1907 ? both statistically significantly different from zero. However, the momentum strategy also exposed investors to large losses (crashes) during both periods. Momentum crashes were predictable ? more likely when momentum recently performed well (both eras), interest rates were relatively low (1867?1907), or momentum had recently outperformed the stock market (CRSP era) ? times when borrowing or attracting return chasing ?blind capital? would have been easier. Based on a stylized model and simulated outcomes from a richer model, we argue that a money manager has an incentive to remain invested in momentum even when the crash risk is known to be high when (1) he competes for funds from return and (2) he is compensated via fees that are convex in the amount of money managed and the return on that money.
AUTHORS: Ghysels, Eric; Chabot, Benjamin; Jagannathan, Ravi
The cost of banking panics in an age before “Too Big to Fail”
How costly were the banking panics of the National Banking Era (1861-1913)? I combine two hand-collected data sets - the weekly statements of the New York Clearing House banks and the monthly holding period return of every stock listed on the NYSE - to estimate the cost of banking panics in an era before ?too big to fail.? The bank statements allow me to construct a hypothetical insurance contract which would have allowed investors to insure against sudden deposit withdrawals and the cross-section of stock returns allow us to draw inferences about the marginal utility during panic states. Panics were costly. The cross-section of gilded-age stock returns imply investors would have willingly paid a 14% annual premium above actuarial fair value to insure $100 against unexpected deposit withdrawals The implied consumption of stock investors suggests that the consumption loss associated with National Banking Era bank runs was far more costly than the consumption loss from stock market crashes.
AUTHORS: Chabot, Benjamin
Bank panics, government guarantees, and the long-run size of the financial sector: evidence from free-banking America
Governments often attempt to increase the confidence of financial market participants by making implicit or explicit guarantees of uncertain credibility. Confidence in these guarantees presumably alters the size of the financial sector, but observing the long-run consequences of failed guarantees is difficult in the modern era. We look to America?s free-banking era and compare the consequences of a broken guarantee during the Indiana-centered Panic of 1854 to the Panic of 1857 in which guarantees were honored. Our estimates of a model of endogenous market structure indicate substantial negative long-run consequences to financial depth when panics cast doubt upon a government?s ability to honor its guarantees.
AUTHORS: Chabot, Benjamin; Moul, Charles C.