Evaluating the Rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
In September 2008, the U.S. government engineered a dramatic rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, placing the two firms into conservatorship and committing billions of taxpayer dollars to stabilize their financial position. While these actions were characterized at the time as a temporary ?time out,? seven years later the firms remain in conservatorship and their ultimate fate is uncertain. In this post, we evaluate the success of the 2008 rescue on several key dimensions, drawing from our recent research article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Identifying term interbank loans from Fedwire payments data
Interbank markets for term maturities experienced great stress during the 2007-09 financial crisis, as illustrated by the behavior of the one- and three-month Libor. Despite widespread interest in these markets, little data is available on dollar interbank lending for maturities beyond overnight. We develop a methodology to infer information about individual term dollar interbank loans settled through the Fedwire Funds Service, the large-value bank payment system operated by the Federal Reserve Banks. We find a sharp increase in the dispersion of inferred term interbank interest rates, a ...
A sampling-window approach to transactions-based Libor fixing
We examine the properties of a method for fixing Libor rates that is based on transactions data and multi-day sampling windows. The use of a sampling window may mitigate problems caused by thin transaction volumes in unsecured wholesale term funding markets. Using two partial data sets of loan transactions, we estimate how the use of different sampling windows could affect the statistical properties of Libor fixings at various maturities. Our methodology, which is based on a multiplicative estimate of sampling noise that avoids the need for interest rate data, uses only the timing and sizes ...
Credit risk transfer and de facto GSE reform
The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac credit risk transfer (CRT) programs, now in their fifth year, shift a portion of credit risk on more than $1.8 trillion of mortgages to private-sector investors. This study summarizes and evaluates the CRT programs, finding that they have been successful in reducing the exposure of the government-sponsored enterprises and the federal government to mortgage credit risk without disrupting the liquidity or stability of mortgage secondary markets. The programs have also created a new financial market for pricing and trading mortgage credit risk, which has grown in ...
Regulation and risk shuffling in bank securities portfolios
Bank capital requirements are based on a mix of market values and book values. We investigate the effects of a policy change that ties regulatory capital to the market value of the ?available-for-sale" investment securities portfolio for some banking organizations. Our analysis is based on security-level data on individual bank portfolios matched to bond characteristics. We find little clear evidence that banks respond by reducing the riskiness of their securities portfolios, although there is some evidence of a greater use of derivatives to hedge securities exposures. Instead, banks respond ...
Peeling the Onion: A Structural View of U.S. Bank Holding Companies
When market observers talk about a “bank,” they are generally not referring to a single legal entity. Instead, large domestic banking organizations are almost always organized according to a bank holding company (BHC) structure, in which a U.S. parent holding company controls up to several thousand separate subsidiaries. This hierarchy of controlled entities generally includes domestic commercial banks primarily focused on lending and deposit-taking as well as a range of nonbanking and foreign firms engaged in a diverse set of business activities, such as securities dealing and ...
The CLASS Model: A Top-Down Assessment of the U.S. Banking System
Central banks and bank supervisors have increasingly relied on capital stress testing as a supervisory and macroprudential tool. Stress tests have been used by central banks and supervisors to assess the resilience of individual banking companies to adverse macroeconomic and financial market conditions as a way of gauging additional capital needs at individual firms and as a means of assessing the overall capital strength of the banking system. In this post, we describe a framework for assessing the impact of various macroeconomic scenarios on the capital and performance of the U.S. banking ...
Barriers to household risk management: evidence from India
Financial engineering offers the potential to significantly reduce the consumption fluctuations faced by individuals, households, and firms. Yet much of this potential remains unfulfilled. This paper studies the adoption of an innovative rainfall insurance product designed to compensate low-income Indian farmers in the event of insufficient rainfall during the primary monsoon season. We first document relatively low adoption of this new risk management product: Only 5-10 percent of households purchase the insurance, even though they overwhelmingly cite rainfall variability as their most ...