Low Interest Rates and Bank Profits
The Fed’s December 2015 decision to raise interest rates after an unprecedented seven-year stasis offers a chance to assess the link between interest rates and bank profitability. A key determinant of a bank’s profitability is its net interest margin (NIM)—the gap between an institution’s interest income and interest expense, typically normalized by the average size of its interest-earning assets. The aggregate NIM for the largest U.S. banks reached historic lows in the fourth quarter of 2015, coinciding with the “low for long” interest rate environment in place since the ...
Are BHC and Federal Reserve Stress Test Results Converging? What Do We Learn from 2015?
In March, the Federal Reserve and thirty-one large U.S. bank holding companies (BHCs) announced results of the latest Dodd-Frank Act-mandated stress tests. Some commentators have argued that BHCs, in designing their stress test models, have strong incentives to mimic the Fed’s stress test results, since the Fed’s results are an integral part of the Federal Reserve’s supervisory assessment of capital adequacy for these firms. In this post, we look at the 2015 stress test projections by the eighteen largest U.S. BHCs and by the Fed and compare them to similar numbers from 2013 and 2014. ...
Are BHCs Mimicking the Fed's Stress Test Results?
In March, the Federal Reserve and thirty-one large bank holding companies (BHCs) disclosed their annual Dodd-Frank Act stress test (DFAST) results. This is the third year in which both the BHCs and the Fed have published their projections. In a previous post, we looked at whether the Fed’s and the BHCs’ stress test results are converging in the aggregate and found mixed results. In this post, we look at stress test projections made by individual BHCs. If the Fed’s projections are very different from a BHC’s in one year, do the BHC projections change in the following year to close this ...
Implications of the COVID-19 Disruption for Corporate Leverage
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic disruptions among U.S. corporations. In this post, we study the preliminary impact of these disruptions on the cash flow and leverage of public U.S. corporations using public filings through April 2020. We find that the pandemic had a negative impact on cash flow while also reducing corporations’ interest expenses. However, the cash flow shock far outpaced the benefits of lower interest payments, especially in industries that were disproportionately levered. Looking ahead, we find that a sizable share of U.S. corporations have interest ...
Supervising large, complex financial institutions: what do supervisors do?
The supervision of large, complex financial institutions is one of the most important, but least understood, activities of the Federal Reserve. Supervision entails monitoring and oversight to assess whether firms are engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, and to ensure that firms take appropriate action to correct such practices. It is distinct from regulation, which involves the development and promulgation of the rules under which firms operate. This article brings greater transparency to the Federal Reserve?s supervisory activities by considering how they are structured, staffed, and ...
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 ...
Are Stress Tests Still Informative?
Since the height of the financial crisis, each year the Federal Reserve has disclosed the results of its stress tests, and stress testing has become ?business as usual? in the U.S. banking industry. In this post, we assess whether market participants find supervisory stress test disclosures informative. After half a decade, do the disclosures still contain information that the market finds valuable?
How Does Supervision Affect Banks?
Supervisors monitor banks to assess the banks? compliance with rules and regulations but also to ensure that they engage in safe and sound practices (see our earlier post What Do Banking Supervisors Do?). Much of the work that bank supervisors do is behind the scenes and therefore difficult for outsiders to measure. In particular, it is difficult to know what impact, if any, supervisors have on the behavior of banks. In this post, we describe a new Staff Report in which we attempt to measure the impact that supervision has on bank performance. Does more attention by supervisors lead to lower ...
Panel Remarks: The Fed and Main Street during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Panel Remarks at The Fed and Main Street during the Coronavirus Pandemic, WebEx event, April 23, 2020.
Trading Partners in the Interbank Lending Market
There is substantial heterogeneity in the structure of trading relationships in the U.S. overnight interbank lending market: Some banks rely on spot transactions, while a majority form stable, concentrated borrowing relationships to hedge liquidity needs. Borrowers pay lower prices and borrow more from their concentrated lenders. When there are exogenous shocks to liquidity supply (days with low GSE lending), concentrated lenders insulate borrowers from the shocks without charging significantly higher interest rates.