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Leverage Rule Arbitrage
Classic arbitrage involves the same asset selling at different prices; the leverage rule arbitrage we study here involves assets of different risk levels requiring the same amount of capital. The supplementary leverage ratio (SLR) rule, finalized by U.S. regulators in September 2014, requires a minimum ratio of capital to assets at the largest U.S. banks. The floor is higher for more systemically important banks, but not for banks with riskier assets. That non-risk-based aspect of SLR was intentional, since the leverage limit was meant to backstop (?supplement?) risk-based capital rules in ...
Bank leverage limits and regulatory arbitrage: new evidence on a recurring question
Banks are regulated more than most firms, making them good subjects to study regulatory arbitrage (avoidance). Their latest arbitrage opportunity may be the new leverage rule covering the largest U.S. banks; leverage rules require equal capital against assets with unequal risks, so banks can effectively relax the leverage constraint by increasing asset risk. Consistent with that conjecture, we find that banks covered by the new rule shifted to riskier, higher yielding securities relative to control banks. The shift began almost precisely when the rule was finalized in 2014, well before it ...
At the N.Y. Fed: Workshop on the Risks of Wholesale Funding
The Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and New York recently cosponsored a workshop on the risks of wholesale funding. Wholesale funding refers to firm financing via deposits and other liabilities from pension funds, money market mutual funds, and other financial intermediaries. Compared with stable retail funding, the supply of wholesale funding is volatile, especially during financial crises. For instance, when a firm relies on short-term wholesale funds to support long-term illiquid assets, it becomes vulnerable to runs by its wholesale creditors, as seen during the recent financial crisis. ...
Reducing moral hazard at the expense of market discipline: the effectiveness of double liability before and during the Great Depression
Prior to the Great Depression, regulators imposed double liability on bank shareholders to ensure financial stability and protect depositors. Under double liability, shareholders of failing banks lost their initial investment and had to pay up to the par value of the stock in order to compensate depositors. We examine whether double liability was effective at mitigating bank risks and providing a safety net for depositors before and during the Great Depression. We first develop a model that demonstrates two competing effects of double liability: a direct effect that constrains bank risk ...
Ten Years after the Crisis, Is the Banking System Safer?
In the wake of the 2007-09 financial crisis, a wide range of new regulations have been introduced to improve the stability of the banking system. But has the banking system become safer since the crisis? In this post, we provide a new perspective on this question by employing four analytical models, each measuring a different aspect of banking system vulnerability, to evaluate how system stability has evolved over the past decade.
Watering a lemon tree: heterogeneous risk taking and monetary policy transmission
We build a general equilibrium model with financial frictions that impede monetary policy transmission. Agents with heterogeneous productivity can increase investment by levering up, which increases liquidity risk due to maturity transformation. In equilibrium, more productive agents choose higher leverage than less productive agents, which exposes the more productive agents to greater liquidity risk and makes their investment less responsive to interest rate changes. When monetary policy reduces interest rates, aggregate investment quality deteriorates, which blunts the monetary stimulus and ...
The effect of monetary policy on bank wholesale funding
We study how monetary policy affects the funding composition of the banking sector. When monetary tightening reduces the retail deposit supply, banks try to substitute the deposit outflows with wholesale funding to smooth their lending. Banks have varying degrees of accessibility to wholesale funding owing to financial frictions, hence large banks, or those with a greater reliance on wholesale funding, increase their wholesale funding more. Consequently, monetary tightening increases both the reliance on and the concentration of wholesale funding within the banking sector. Our findings also ...
Heterogeneity and stability: bolster the strong, not the weak
This paper provides a model of systemic panic among financial institutions with heterogeneous fragilities. Concerns about potential spillovers from each other generate strategic interaction among institutions, triggering a preemption game in which one tries to exit the market before the others to avoid spillovers. Although financial contagion originates in weaker institutions, systemic risk depends critically on the financial health of stronger institutions in the contagion chain. This analysis suggests that when concerns about spillovers prevail, then 1) increasing heterogeneity of ...
Leverage Ratio Arbitrage All Over Again
Leverage limits as a form of capital regulation have a well-known, potential bug: If banks can’t lever returns as desired, they can boost returns on equity by shifting toward riskier, higher yielding assets. That reach for yield is the leverage rule “arbitrage.” But would banks do that? In a previous post, we discussed evidence from our working paper that banks did do just that in response to the new leverage rule that took effect in 2018. This post discusses new findings in our revised paper on when and how banks arbitraged.
Hidden cost of better bank services: carefree depositors in riskier banks?
Better customer service helps banks attract core deposits and increase funding stickiness by raising depositors? switching costs and enhancing their loyalty. This funding stickiness, however, could impair market discipline and lead to excessive risk-taking. We find that banks providing better services attract more core deposits, pay less for their funding, and are exposed to lower funding outflow risks. At the same time, these banks carry lower quality loans. We argue that this contradictory finding of cheaper funding cost with lower asset quality stems from the lack of risk monitoring by ...