How do insiders respond to regulatory oversight? History suggests that they form sophisticated networks to share information and circumvent regulation. We develop a theory of the formation and regulation of information transmission networks. We show that agents with sufficiently complex networks bypass any given regulatory environment. In response, regulators employ broad regulatory boundaries to combat gaming, giving rise to regulatory ambiguity. Tighter regulation induces agents to migrate transmission activity from existing social networks to a core-periphery insider network. A small group ...
Uncertain booms and fragility
I develop a framework of the buildup and outbreak of financial crises in an asymmetric information setting. In equilibrium, two distinct economic states arise endogenously: ?normal times,? periods of modest investment, and ?booms,? periods of expansionary investment. Normal times occur when the intermediary sector realizes moderate investment opportunities. Booms occur when the intermediary sector realizes many investment opportunities, but also occur when it realizes very few opportunities. As a result, investors face greater uncertainty in booms. During a boom, subsequent arrival of ...
Deciphering Americans’ Views on Cryptocurrencies
Having witnessed the dramatic rise and fall in the value of cryptocurrencies over the past year, we wanted to learn more about what motivates people to participate in this market. To find out, we included a special set of questions in the May 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations, a project of the New York Fed?s Center for Microeconomic Data. This blog post summarizes the results of that survey, shedding light on U.S. consumers? depth of participation in cryptocurrencies and their motives for entering this new market.
How Does Information Affect Liquidity in Over-the-Counter Markets?
A large volume of financial transactions occur in decentralized markets that commonly depend on a network of dealers. Dealers face two impediments to providing liquidity in these markets. First, dealers may face informed traders. Second, they may face costs associated with maintaining large balance sheets, either due to inventory or liquidity costs. In a recent paper, we study a model of over-the-counter (OTC) markets in which liquidity is endogenously determined by dealers who must contend with both asymmetric information and liquidity costs. This post provides an intuitive explanation of ...
Bitcoin Is Not a New Type of Money
Bitcoin, and more generally, cryptocurrencies, are often described as a new type of money. In this post, we argue that this is a misconception. Bitcoin may be money, but it is not a new type of money. To see what is truly new about Bitcoin, it is useful to make a distinction between “money,” the asset that is being exchanged, and the “exchange mechanism,” that is, the method or process through which the asset is transferred. Doing so reveals that monies with properties similar to Bitcoin have existed for centuries. However, the ability to make electronic exchanges without a trusted ...
Modern-day financial systems are highly complex, with billions of exchanges in information, assets, and funds between individuals and institutions. Though daunting to operationalize, regulating these transmissions may be desirable in some instances. For example, securities regulators aim to protect investors by tracking and punishing insider trading. Recent evidence shows that insiders have formed sophisticated networksthat enable them to pursue activities outside the purview of regulatory oversight. In understanding the cat-and-mouse game between regulators and insiders, a key consideration ...
Who Sees the Trades? The Effect of Information on Liquidity in Inter-Dealer Markets
Dealers, who strategically supply liquidity to traders, are subject to both liquidity and adverse selection costs. While liquidity costs can be mitigated through inter-dealer trading, individual dealers? private motives to acquire information compromise inter-dealer market liquidity. Post-trade information disclosure can improve market liquidity by counteracting dealers? incentives to become better informed through their market-making activities. Asymmetric disclosure, however, exacerbates the adverse selection problem in inter-dealer markets, in turn decreasing equilibrium liquidity ...
A Dynamic Theory of Collateral Quality and Long-Term Interventions
We study a dynamic model of collateralized lending under adverse selection in which the quality of collateral assets is endogenously determined by hidden effort. Complementarities in incentives lead to non-ergodic dynamics: Asset quality and output grow when asset quality is high, but stagnate or deteriorate otherwise. Inefficiencies remain, even in the most efficient competitive equilibrium?investment and output are vulnerable to spells of lending market illiquidity, and these spells may persist because of suboptimal effort. Nevertheless, benevolent regulators without commitment can destroy ...
Cyber Risk and the U.S. Financial System: A Pre-Mortem Analysis
We model how a cyber attack may be amplified through the U.S. financial system, focusing on the wholesale payments network. We estimate that the impairment of any of the five most active U.S. banks will result in significant spillovers to other banks, with 38 percent of the network affected on average. The impact varies and can be larger on particular days and in geographies with concentrated banking markets. When banks respond to uncertainty by liquidity hoarding, the potential impact in forgone payment activity is dramatic, reaching more than 2.5 times daily GDP. In a reverse stress test, ...
COVID-19 and the Search for Digital Alternatives to Cash
Today, the majority of retail payments in the United States are digital. Practically all digital payments are tracked, collected, and aggregated by financial institutions, payment providers, and vendors. This trend has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as payments that require physical contact, such as cash, have been discouraged. As cash gradually becomes obsolete, consumers are left with fewer alternatives for making private transactions. In this post, we outline some evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer payment behavior and follow up in the second post in this Liberty ...