Despite the importance of insurance, discussions about the macroeconomic role and the risks of insurance markets have been surprisingly limited. This column explores some of the key theoretical and conceptual questions still unanswered in this field, and suggests that a two-fold approach combining a focus on individual firms and an activity-based approach across the sector is needed to tackle systemic risk within the insurance industry.
Felix Hufeld, Ralph Koijen, Christian Thimann, 30 January 2017
Jon Danielsson, Robert Macrae, 08 December 2016
Political risk is a major cause of systemic financial risk. This column argues that both the integrity and the legitimacy of macroprudential policy, or ‘macropru’, depends on political risk being included with other risk factors. Yet it is usually excluded from macropru, and that could be a fatal flaw.
Xavier Vives, 06 December 2016
As with previous systemic crises, the 2007-2009 crisis has created regulatory reform, but is it adequate? This column argues that prudential regulation should consider interactions between conduct – capital, liquidity, disclosure requirements, macroprudential ratios – and structural instruments, and also coordinate with competition policy. Though recent reforms are a welcome response to the latest crisis, we do not know how effective they will be in future.
Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 15 November 2016
A growing class of mutual funds – those that hold mostly illiquid assets – appear to be a potential source of systemic risk. This column discusses why, and argues that converting open-end mutual funds into exchange-traded funds could mitigate the problem. When markets are liquid, exchange-traded funds operate like open-end mutual funds; but should markets become illiquid, exchange-traded funds then operate like closed-end funds and face no run risk.
Domenico Lombardi, Pierre Siklos, 07 November 2016
After the 2008 Global Crisis, there has been progress towards a system-wide regulatory architecture that includes a national macroprudential authority. This column describes a ‘capacity indicator’ that measures the state of macroprudential policies worldwide, including the features policymakers believe constitute a successful macroprudential policy regime. Eventually this index may be used to establish whether these macroprudential policy innovations have been successful.
Markus K Brunnermeier, Sam Langfield, Marco Pagano, Ricardo Reis, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, Dimitri Vayanos, 20 September 2016
The Eurozone lacks a safe asset that is provided by the region as a whole. This column highlights why and how European Safe Bonds, a union-wide safe asset without joint liability, would resolve this problem, and outlines steps to put them into practice. For given sovereign default probabilities, these bonds would be as safe as German bunds and would approximately double the supply of euro safe assets. Moreover, owing to general equilibrium effects, they would weaken the diabolic loop between sovereign risk and bank risk.
Priyank Gandhi, Hanno Lustig, Alberto Plazzi, 21 August 2016
Governments and regulators are commonly assumed to offer special protection to the stakeholders of large financial institutions during financial crises. This column measures the ex ante cost of implicit shareholder guarantees to financial institutions in crises, and suggests that such protection affects small and large financial institutions differently. The evidence suggests that in the event of a financial crisis, stock investors price in the implicit government guarantees extended to large financial institutions, but not to small ones.
Thomas Huertas, 09 August 2016
Financial market infrastructures (FMIs) are the backbone of the financial system. Although steps have been taken to make it less likely, if an FMI were to fail it could have catastrophic consequences for financial markets and the economy at large. This column introduces four recommendations from the CEPS Resolution Taskforce for policymakers in case of such an event, based on coordination, timeliness, and remedying the impediments to FMI resolvability.
Gaston Gelos, Nico Valckx, 27 July 2016
In recent years, the life insurance sector has become more systemically important across advanced economies. This increase is largely due to growing common exposures and to insurers’ rising interest rate sensitivity. This column analyses the evolution of the insurance sector’s contribution to systemic risk. Overall, life insurers do not seem to have markedly changed their asset portfolios toward riskier assets, although smaller and weaker insurers in some countries have taken on more risk. The findings suggest that supervisors and regulators should take a more macroprudential approach to the sector.
Giudici Paolo, Laura Paris, 30 June 2016
In April 2016, Italian banks set up an equity fund intended to recapitalise troubled financial institutions in a ‘private bail-out intervention’ scenario, with a view to avoiding a bail-in under the European Bank and Recovery Resolution directive. This column analyses the main differences between a bail-in and a bail-out scenario. In particular, it compares contagion effects, and thus the total default probabilities of financial institutions in these two circumstances, in order to establish which banks would benefit more from a bail-out rather than a bail-in.
Balazs Csullag, Jon Danielsson, Robert Macrae, 27 June 2016
Investor demand for bonds is very high. This column argues that this is surprising because under almost any likely inflation scenario, including central banks merely hitting their target inflation rates, bondholders suffer large losses. The beneficiaries are sovereign and corporate borrowers; the losers are pension funds, insurance companies and some foreign exchange reserve funds. Meanwhile, the systemic risk from a bond crisis is increasing.
Jon Danielsson, Robert Macrae, Jean-Pierre Zigrand, 24 June 2016
Brexit creates new opportunities and new risks for the British and EU financial markets. Both could benefit, but a more likely outcome is a fall in the quality of financial regulations, more inefficiency, more protectionism, and more systemic risk.
The objective of this course is to present empirical applications (as well as the research methodologies) of relevant questions for both banking theory and policy, mainly related to Systemic Risk, Crises, Monetary Policy and Risk taking behaviour. An important objective is to understand scientific papers in empirical banking; to accomplish this objective, emphasis is placed on illustrating research methodologies used in empirical banking and learning the application of these methodologies to selected topics, such as:
- Securities and credit registers; large datasets
- Fire sales, runs, market and funding liquidity, systemic risk
- Risk-taking and credit channels of monetary policy
- Moral hazard vs. behavioral based risk-taking
- Secular stagnation, banking and debt crises
- Interbank globalization, contagion, emerging markets, policy
Jon Danielsson, Morgane Fouché, Robert Macrae, 10 June 2016
The threat to the financial system posed by cyber risk is often claimed to be systemic. This column argues against this, pointing out that almost all cyber risk is microprudential. For a cyber attack to lead to a systemic crisis, it would need to be timed impeccably to coincide with other non-cyber events that undermine confidence in the financial system and the authorities. The only actors with enough resources to affect such an event are large sovereign states, and they could likely create the required uncertainty through simpler, financial means.
Christian Thimann, 31 May 2016
The IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report devotes for the first time a chapter to the systemic risks potentially associated with the insurance sector and how regulatory bodies should respond. This column examines the key points and proposes a way forward for the global regulatory framework for insurance. In particular, it argues for the importance of not treating the sector in the same way as the banking sector as the two operate very different business models. Similarly, for an activity-based approach, a regulatory focus on just nine ‘systemically important’ insurers rather than the sector as a whole is flawed.
Angus Armstrong, Philip Davis, 22 April 2016
Since the Global Crisis, a number of regulatory policies have been discussed, proposed and sometimes implemented to address shortcomings in the regulatory framework. This column presents the views of the speakers at a recent conference on whether we have reached an efficient outcome. For most of the speakers, the answer was a resounding “no”.
Franklin Allen, 22 April 2016
Designing good regulation requires a good knowledge of the systems to be regulated. In this video, Franklin Allen argues that we still have an imperfect understanding of systemic risk leading to difficulties in designing effective regulations. One of the problems stems from the fact that regulators still think in terms of macroeconomics instead of focusing on the financial side. This video was recorded at the 18th March 2016 conference on Financial Regulation organized by NIESR and held at the Bank of England.
Roel Beetsma, Siert Vos, 23 February 2016
There is a broad consensus that banks and insurance companies may contribute to systemic risk in the financial system. For other financial market institutions, it is less clear-cut. This column examines the resilience of pension funds to severe shocks. While the evidence indicates that they are of low systematic importance, policy trends that apply to all financial players may undermine this. Specifically, risk-based solvency requirements carry the risk of homogenising the behaviour of all players, potentially amplifying shocks and destabilising markets.
Daniel Gros, 12 February 2016
The Eurozone’s ‘Banking Union’ created a system of banking supervision and a common institution to restructure troubled banks. There remain two issues, however, that need to be addressed: banks are holding too much debt of their own sovereign, and deposit insurance is only backstopped at the national level. This column argues that these issues need to be addressed simultaneously for economic and political reasons. Specifically, periphery and core countries hold opposing positions on remedies to the respective problems. A combination of the two makes economic sense and could represent an acceptable political compromise.
Nikolaos Papanikolaou, Christian Wolff, 06 December 2015
In the years running up to the global crisis, the banking sector was marked by a high degree of leverage. Using US data, this column shows how, before the onset of the crisis, banks accumulated leverage both on and, especially, off their balance sheets. The latter activities saw an increase in maturity mismatch, raised the probability of bank runs, and increased both individual bank risk and systemic risk. These findings support the imposition of an explicit off-balance sheet leverage ratio in future regulatory frameworks.