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Content Type:Discussion Paper 

Discussion Paper
Selection in Banking

Over the past thirty years, more than 2,900 U.S. banks have transformed from pure depository institutions into conglomerates involved in a broad range of business activities. What type of banks choose to become conglomerate organizations? In this post, we document that, from 1986 to 2018, such institutions had, on average, a higher return on equity in the three years prior to their decision to expand, as well as a lower level of risk overall. However, this superior pre-expansion performance diminishes over time, and all but disappears by the end of the 1990s.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20191216

Discussion Paper
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 ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20191218

Discussion Paper
The Evolving Market for U.S. Sovereign Credit Risk

How should we measure market expectations of the U.S. government failing to meet its debt obligations and thereby defaulting? A natural candidate would be to use the spreads on U.S. sovereign single-name credit default swaps (CDS): since a CDS provides insurance to the buyer for the possibility of default, an increase in the CDS spread would indicate an increase in the market-perceived probability of a credit event occurring. In this post, we argue that aggregate measures of activity in U.S. sovereign CDS mask a decrease in risk-forming transactions after 2014. That is, quoted CDS spreads in ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200106

Discussion Paper
What’s in A(AA) Credit Rating?

Rising nonfinancial corporate business leverage, especially for riskier “high-yield” firms, has recently received increased public and supervisory scrutiny. For example, the Federal Reserve’s May 2019 Financial Stability Report notes that “growth in business debt has outpaced GDP for the past 10 years, with the most rapid growth in debt over recent years concentrated among the riskiest firms.” At the upper end of the credit spectrum, “investment-grade” firms have also increased their borrowing, while the number of higher-rated firms has decreased. In fact, there are currently ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200108

Discussion Paper
Have Consumers Been Deleveraging?

Since its peak in summer 2008, U.S. consumers’ indebtedness has fallen by more than a trillion dollars. Over roughly the same period, charge-offs—the removal of obligations from consumers’ credit reports because of defaults—have risen sharply, especially on loans secured by houses, which make up about 80 percent of consumer liabilities. An important question for gauging the behavior of U.S. consumers is how to interpret these two trends. Is the reduction in debts entirely attributable to defaults, or are consumers actively reducing their debts? In this post, we demonstrate that a ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110321

Discussion Paper
How Much Will the Rise in Commodity Prices Reduce Discretionary Income?

Commodity prices have risen considerably since August 2010, raising concerns that higher commodity prices could reduce households’ discretionary income and slow the recovery. For example, as former Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said in the Wall Street Journal last fall: “… the surge in international commodity prices. If that persists it could hurt Americans’ disposable income, especially as it is reflected in higher gas and energy prices.” Is that concern warranted?
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110323

Discussion Paper
How Were the Basel 3 Minimum Capital Requirements Calibrated?

One way to reduce the likelihood of bank failures is to require banks to hold more and better capital. But how much capital is enough? An international committee of regulators recently reached a new agreement (called Basel 3) to impose new, higher standards for capital on globally active banks. The Basel 3 common equity minimum capital requirement will be 4.5 percent plus an additional buffer of at least 2.5 percent of risk-weighted assets (RWA). Are these numbers big or small?and where did they come from? In this post, I describe how the new Basel capital standards were calibrated.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110328

Discussion Paper
Why Do Central Banks Have Discount Windows?

Though not literally a window any longer, the “discount window” refers to the facilities that central banks, acting as lender of last resort, use to provide liquidity to commercial banks. While the need for a discount window and lender of last resort has been debated, the basic rationale for their existence is that circumstances can arise, such as bank runs and panics, when even fundamentally sound banks cannot raise liquidity on short notice. Massive discount window borrowing in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States clearly illustrates the ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110330

Discussion Paper
Everything You Wanted to Know about the Tri-Party Repo Market, but Didn't Know to Ask

The tri-party repo market is a large and important market where securities dealers find short-term funding for a substantial portion of their own and their clients’ assets. The Task Force on Tri-Party Repo Infrastructure (Task Force) noted in its report that “(a)t several points during the financial crisis of 2007-2009, the tri-party repo market took on particular importance in relation to the failures and near-failures of Countrywide Securities, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers.” In this post, we provide an overview of this market and discuss several reforms currently under way ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110411

Discussion Paper
Why Did U.S. Branches of Foreign Banks Borrow at the Discount Window during the Crisis?

To help contain the economic damage caused by the recent financial crisis, the Federal Reserve extended large amounts of liquidity to financial firms through traditional lending facilities such as the discount window as well as through newly designed facilities. Recently released Federal Reserve data on discount window borrowing show that some U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks were among the most active users of the window. In this post, we explain why U.S. branches borrow at the discount window. We also discuss two main reasons why these branches had a large need for dollars during ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110413

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