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 ...
Cyberattacks and Supply Chain Disruptions
Cybercrime is one of the most pressing concerns for firms. Hackers perpetrate frequent but isolated ransomware attacks mostly for financial gains, while state-actors use more sophisticated techniques to obtain strategic information such as intellectual property and, in more extreme cases, to disrupt the operations of critical organizations. Thus, they can damage firms’ productive capacity, thereby potentially affecting their customers and suppliers. In this post, which is based on a related Staff Report, we study a particularly severe cyberattack that inadvertently spread beyond its ...
The impact of unconventional monetary policy on firm financing constraints: evidence from the maturity extension program
This paper investigates the impact of unconventional monetary policy on firm financing constraints. It focuses on the Federal Reserve?s maturity extension program (MEP), which was intended to lower longer-term rates and flatten the yield curve by reducing the supply of long-term government debt. Consistent with those models that emphasize bond market segmentation and limits to arbitrage, around the MEP?s announcement, stock prices rose most sharply for those firms that are more dependent on longer-term debt. These firms also issued more long-term debt during the MEP and expanded employment ...
The Effects of Leverage on Investments in Maintenance: Evidence from Apartments
This paper studies the sensitivity of investment in apartment building maintenance to building debt levels. I use a novel data set combining housing code violations from forty-five U.S. cities with apartment financing information to show that highly leveraged buildings tend to be less well maintained. I then exploit a natural experiment that effectively increases building leverage for some New York City rent-stabilized buildings, but not others. Following the shock, violations increase for affected buildings relative to unaffected buildings. This change in violations is concentrated among ...
Are Asset Managers Vulnerable to Fire Sales?
According to conventional wisdom, an open-ended investment fund that has a floating net asset value (NAV) and no leverage will never experience a run and hence never have to fire-sell assets. In that view, a decline in the value of the fund’s assets will just lead to a commensurate and automatic decline in the fund’s equity—end of story. In this post, we argue that the conventional wisdom is incomplete and then explore some of the systemic risk consequences of investment funds’ vulnerabilities to fire-sale spillovers.
Weathering the Storm: Who Can Access Credit in a Pandemic?
Credit enables firms to weather temporary disruptions in their business that may impair their cash flow and limit their ability to meet commitments to suppliers and employees. The onset of the COVID recession sparked a massive increase in bank credit, largely driven by firms drawing on pre-committed credit lines. In this post, which is based on a recent Staff Report, we investigate which firms were able to tap into bank credit to help sustain their business over the ensuing downturn.
Claim Dilution in the Municipal Debt Market
Using loan-level municipal bank lending data, we examine the debt structure of municipalities and its response to exogenous income shocks. We show that small, more indebted, low-income, and medium credit quality counties are particularly reliant on private bank financing. Low income counties are more likely to increase bank debt share after an adverse permanent income shock while high income counties do not shift their debt structure in response. In contrast, only high income counties draw on their credit lines after adverse transitory income shocks. Overall, our paper raises concerns about ...
The Making of Fallen Angels—and What QE and Credit Rating Agencies Have to Do with It
Riskier firms typically borrow at higher rates than safer firms because investors require compensation for taking on more risk. However, since 2009 this relationship has been turned on its head in the massive BBB corporate bond market, with risky BBB-rated firms borrowing at lower rates than their safer BBB-rated peers. The resulting risk materialized in an unprecedented wave of “fallen angels” (or firms downgraded below the BBB investment-grade threshold) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this post, based on a related Staff Report, we claim that this anomaly has been driven by a ...
Worker Flows in Banking Regulation
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, job transitions of personnel in banking supervision and regulation between the public and private sectors?often labeled the revolving door?have come under intense scrutiny and have been blamed by certain economists (Johnson and Kwak), legal scholars (John Coffee in the Financial Times), and policymakers (Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, Section 968) for distorting regulators? actions in favor of banks. However, other commentators have downplayed these distortions and presented a more benign viewpoint of these worker flows?as a means for regulatory ...
In a Relationship: Evidence of Underwriters’ Efforts to Stabilize the Share Price in the Facebook IPO
Stocks are usually offered in initial public offerings (IPOs) at a discount, leading to large first-day IPO returns. When there is a risk of a negative initial return, underwriters are known to actively support the aftermarket price of a stock through buying activities. In this post, we look at the trading book for Facebook stock on May 18, 2012, the day of its highly anticipated IPO. Using what we call a ?large integer?price bid? identification assumption to indirectly infer which investors are bidding, we find evidence of significant trading by underwriters seeking to stabilize the stock?s ...