Banker Preferences, Interbank Connections, and the Enduring Structure of the Federal Reserve System
Established by a three person committee in 1914, the structure of the Federal Reserve System has remained essentially unchanged ever since, despite criticism at the time and over ensuing decades. This paper examines the original selection of cities for Reserve Banks and branches, and placement of district boundaries. We show that each aspect of the Fed?s structure reflected the preferences of national banks, including adjustments to district boundaries after 1914. Further, using newly-collected data on interbank connections, we find that banker preferences mirrored established correspondent ...
Liquidity Risk, Bank Networks, and the Value of Joining the Federal Reserve System
Reducing systemic liquidity risk related to seasonal swings in loan demand was one reason for the founding of the Federal Reserve System. Existing evidence on the post-Federal Reserve increase in the seasonal volatility of aggregate lending and the decrease in seasonal interest rate swings suggests that it succeeded in that mission. Nevertheless, less than 8 percent of state-chartered banks joined the Federal Reserve in its first decade. Some have speculated that nonmembers could avoid higher costs of the Federal Reserve?s reserve requirements while still obtaining access indirectly to the ...
Banking on the Boom, Tripped by the Bust: Banks and the World War I Agricultural Price Shock
How do banks respond to asset booms? This paper examines i) how U.S. banks responded to the World War I farmland boom; ii) the impact of regulation; and iii) how bank closures exacerbated the post-war bust. The boom encouraged new bank formation and balance sheet expansion (especially by new banks). Deposit insurance amplified the impact of rising crop prices on bank portfolios, while higher minimum capital requirements dampened the effects. Banks that responded most aggressively to the asset boom had a higher probability of closing in the bust, and counties with more bank closures ...
Managing the Maturity Structure of Marketable Treasury Debt: 1953-1983
This paper examines the evolution of the maturity structure of marketable Treasury debt from 1953 to 1983. Average maturity contracted erratically from 1953 to 1960, expanded through mid-1965, contracted again through late 1975, and then expanded into the early 1980s. What accounts for these broad trends? In particular, what were the maturity objectives of Treasury debt managers? Were they able to achieve their objectives? Why or why not?
The development of the Government Securities Clearing Corporation
Despite its vast size, liquidity, and global importance, the U.S. government securities market was one of the last major securities markets to benefit from centralized clearance and settlement services. The development of these services began in 1986 with the establishment of the Government Securities Clearing Corporation (GSCC)?now part of the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation, a unit of the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. This article traces the history of the GSCC. The author describes the state of the government securities market in the 1980s and the events that led to GSCC?s ...
Information Management in Times of Crisis
How does information management and control affect bank stability? Following a national bank holiday in 1933, New York state bank regulators suspended the publication of balance sheets of state-charter banks for two years, whereas the national-charter bank regulator did not. We use this divergence in policies to examine how the suspension of bank-specific information affected depositors. We find that state-charter banks experienced significantly less deposit outflows than national-charter banks in 1933. However, the behavior of bank deposits across both types of banks converged in 1934 after ...
Origins of Too-Big-to-Fail Policy
This paper traces the origin of the too-big-to-fail problem in banking to the bailout of the $1.2 billion Bank of the Commonwealth in 1972. It describes this bailout and those of subsequent banks through that of Continental Illinois in 1984. Motivations behind the bailouts are described with a particular emphasis on those provided by Irvine Sprague in his book Bailout. During this period, market concentration due to interstate banking restrictions is a factor in most of the bailouts, and systemic risk concerns were raised to justify the bailouts of surprisingly small banks. Sprague?s ...
Near-Money Premiums, Monetary Policy, and the Integration of Money Markets : Lessons from Deregulation
The 1960s and 1970s witnessed rapid growth in the markets for new money market instruments, such as negotiable certificates of deposit (CDs) and Eurodollar deposits, as banks and investors sought ways around various regulations affecting funding markets. In this paper, we investigate the impacts of the deregulation and integration of the money markets. We find that the pricing and volume of negotiable CDs and Eurodollars issued were influenced by the availability of other short-term safe assets, especially Treasury bills. Banks appear to have issued these money market instruments as ...
Managing the Treasury Yield Curve in the 1940s
This paper examines the efforts of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to first control, and later decontrol, the level and shape of the Treasury yield curve in the 1940s. The paper begins with a brief review of monetary policy in 1938 and a description of the period between September 1939 and December 1941, when the idea of maintaining a fixed yield curve first appeared. It then discusses the financing of U.S. participation in World War II and the experience with maintaining a fixed curve. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the FOMC regained control of monetary policy in the ...
Central Clearing and Systemic Liquidity Risk
By stepping between bilateral counterparties, a central counterparty (CCP) transforms credit exposure. CCPs generally improve financial stability. Nevertheless, large CCPs are by nature concentrated and interconnected with major global banks. Moreover, although they mitigate credit risk, CCPs create liquidity risks, because they rely on participants to provide cash. Such requirements increase with both market volatility and default; consequently, CCP liquidity needs are inherently procyclical. This procyclicality makes it more challenging to assess CCP resilience in the rare event that one or ...