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Jel Classification:G28 

Report
On the scale of financial intermediaries

This paper studies the economic scale of financial institutions. We show that banks and security broker-dealers actively smooth book equity by adjusting payouts. The smoothing of book equity is associated with procyclical book leverage and procyclical net payouts. In contrast, market leverage largely reflects movements in valuation levels as measured by book-to-market ratios. The 2008 crisis caused a structural break, after which the growth rates of the banking and dealer sectors have been subdued relative to pre-crisis levels. We draw conclusions for theories of financial intermediation and ...
Staff Reports , Paper 743

Report
Evaluating regulatory reform: banks’ cost of capital and lending

We examine the effects of regulatory changes on banks’ cost of capital and lending. Since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, the value-weighted CAPM cost of capital for banks has averaged 10.5 percent and declined by more than 4 percent on a within-firm basis relative to financial crisis highs. This decrease was much greater for the largest banks subject to new regulation than for other banks and firms. Over a longer twenty-year horizon, we find that changes in the systematic risk of bank equity have real economic consequences: increases in banks’ cost of capital are associated with ...
Staff Reports , Paper 854

Discussion Paper
Fair lending analysis of credit cards

This paper discusses some of the key fair lending risks that can arise in various stages of the marketing, acquisition, and management of credit card accounts, and the analysis that can be employed to manage such risks. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and its implementing Regulation B prohibit discrimination in all aspects of credit transactions and include specific provisions relating to processes that employ credit scoring models. This paper discusses some of the areas of credit card operations that may be assessed in an effort to manage the risk of noncompliance with fair lending ...
Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers , Paper 14-2

Working Paper
Private money and banking regulation

We show that a competitive banking system is inconsistent with an optimum quantity of private money. Because bankers cannot commit to their promises and the composition of their assets is not publicly observable, a positive franchise value is required to induce the full convertibility of bank liabilities. Under perfect competition, a positive franchise value can be obtained only if the return on bank liabilities is sufficiently low, which imposes a cost on those who hold these liabilities for transaction purposes. If the banking system is monopolistic, then an efficient allocation is ...
Working Papers , Paper 15-19

Report
Taking orders and taking notes: dealer information sharing in financial markets

The use of order flow information by financial firms has come to the forefront of the regulatory debate. Central to this discussion is whether a dealer who acquires information by taking client orders can share that information. We explore how information sharing affects dealers, clients, and issuer revenues in U.S. Treasury auctions. Because one cannot observe alternative information regimes, we build a model, calibrate it to auction results data, and use it to quantify counterfactuals. We estimate that yearly auction revenues with full information sharing (with clients and between dealers) ...
Staff Reports , Paper 726

Discussion Paper
Why Do Banks Target ROE?

Nonfinancial corporations focus on the growth in earnings per share (EPS) to benchmark their performance. Banks used to follow a similar practice, but starting in the late 1970s they began to emphasize return on equity (ROE) instead. In this blog post, we outline findings from our recent staff report, which argues that banks had an incentive to make this change when their charter values eroded owing to increased competition, and the incentive to change was magnified by risk-insensitive deposit insurance.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20181010

Working Paper
Dealers' Insurance, Market Structure, And Liquidity

We develop a parsimonious model to study the equilibrium structure of financial markets and its efficiency properties. We find that regulations aimed at improving market outcomes can cause inefficiencies. The welfare benefit of such regulation stems from endogenously improving market access for some participants, thus boosting competition and lowering prices to the ultimate consumers. Higher competition, however, erodes profits from market activities. This has two effects: it disproportionately hurts more efficient market participants, who earn larger profits, and it reduces the incentives of ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2017-119

Report
Financial stability policies for shadow banking

This paper explores financial stability policies for the shadow banking system. I tie policy options to economic mechanisms for shadow banking that have been documented in the literature. I then illustrate the role of shadow bank policies using three examples: agency mortgage real estate investment trusts, leveraged lending, and captive reinsurance affiliates. For each example, the economic mechanisms are explained, the potential risks emanating from the activities are described, and policy options to mitigate such risks are listed. The overarching theme of the analysis is that any policy ...
Staff Reports , Paper 664

Report
Alternative Trading Systems in the Corporate Bond Market

We investigate the trading of corporate bonds on alternative trading system (ATS) platforms. We draw a key distinction between request-for-quote (RFQ) and electronic communication network (ECN) trading protocols, which balance investors’ preference for immediacy and anonymity. Trades on ATS platforms are smaller and more likely to involve investment-grade bonds. Trades on ATS platforms are more probable for older, less actively traded bonds from smaller issues and for bonds traded by more dealers where inventory is high. Moreover, dealer participation on ATS platforms is associated with ...
Staff Reports , Paper 938

Working Paper
Contract Choice in the Interwar US Residential Mortgage Market

This paper studies mortgage contract choices in US history using a first-of-its-kind sample of residential loans from 1930 and 1940, linked to the decennial censuses. Contract choices reflected borrowers' reactions to the risks posed by different contracts. The majority of borrowers chose contracts with the longest available terms, despite required frequent amortization, likely in order to avoid refinancing risk and to maximize leverage. In contrast, the most creditworthy borrowers with high socioeconomic status preferred short-term contracts, confident that they could refinance at will. The ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2018-13

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