Shadow banking and the economy
Alan Moreira, Alexi Savov 16 September 2014
The prevailing view of shadow banking is that it is all about regulatory arbitrage – evading capital requirements and exploiting ‘too big to fail’. This column focuses instead on the tradeoff between economic growth and financial stability. Shadow banking transforms risky, illiquid assets into securities that are – in good times, at least – treated like money. This alleviates the shortage of safe assets, thereby stimulating growth. However, this process builds up fragility, and can exacerbate the depth of the bust when the liquidity of shadow banking securities evaporates.
Shadow banking, what is it good for? At the epicentre of the global financial crisis, shadow banking has become the focus of intense regulatory scrutiny. All reform proposals implicitly take a stance on its economic value.
According to the prevailing regulatory arbitrage and neglected risks views, it doesn’t have any – shadow banking is about evading capital requirements, exploiting ‘too big to fail’, and marketing risky securities as safe to unwitting investors. The right response is to bring shadow banking into the regulatory and supervisory regime that covers insured banks.
Financial markets Global crisis Macroeconomic policy
shadow banking, banking, financial crisis, global crisis, regulatory arbitrage, liquidity transformation, financial stability, externalities, collateral, business cycle, financial regulation, financial fragility, liquidity, liquidity crunch
Restoring financial stability with economic growth
James Boughton 15 September 2014
The international financial system is not working fine and reforms of regional and global institutions are much needed. This column discusses some of the transformations that the IMF could implement in order to keep pace with the changes in the world economy. One problem for the credibility of the IMF is the G20 in its current design and organisation. Institutional reforms, however, should be combined with advances in economic policy in order to promote economic growth and financial stability.
No one would argue seriously any longer that the international financial system is working just fine. When the politicians and central bankers who govern the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank gather in Washington this October, much of the talk will be about the refusal of the US Congress to pass legislation that would reform the IMF.
Global governance International finance
economic growth, financial stability, institutions, IMF, G20
Compliance with risk targets – will the Volcker Rule be effective?
Jussi Keppo, Josef Korte 07 September 2014
Four years ago, the Volcker Rule was codified as part of the Dodd–Frank Act in an attempt to separate allegedly risky trading activities from commercial banking. This column presents new evidence finding that those banks most affected by the Volcker Rule have indeed reduced their trading books much more than others. However, there are no corresponding effects on risk-taking – if anything, affected banks take more risks and use their trading accounts less for hedging.
The Volcker Rule, passed as part of the Dodd–Frank Act in July 2010, has been appraised as one of the most important changes to banking regulation since the global financial crisis. By restricting banks’ business models and prohibiting allegedly risky activities, the rule ultimately aims at increasing resolvability and reducing imprudent risk-taking by banks, and therefore at increasing financial stability. This is done by banning banks from proprietary trading and limiting their investments in hedge funds and private equity.
Financial markets Microeconomic regulation
banking, regulation, Volcker rule, Dodd–Frank, banking regulation, proprietary trading, risk, hedging, financial stability
New-breed global investors and emerging-market financial stability
Gaston Gelos, Hiroko Oura 23 August 2014
The landscape of portfolio investment in emerging markets has evolved considerably over the past 15 years. Financial markets have deepened and become more internationally integrated. The mix of global investors has also changed, with more money intermediated by mutual funds. This column explains that these changes have made capital flows and asset prices in these economies more sensitive to global financial shocks. However, broad-based financial deepening and improved institutions can enhance the resilience of emerging-market economies.
The investor base matters since different investors behave differently. During the emerging-market sell-off episodes in 2013 and early 2014:
- Retail-oriented mutual funds withdrew aggressively, but investors from different regions also tended to behave differently;
- Institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies with long-term strategies broadly maintained their emerging-market investments.
Figure 1 shows the facts.
Figure 1. Bond flows to emerging-market economies
Financial markets International finance
Pension Funds, financial stability, capital flows, investment, emerging markets, financial deepening, herding, original sin, mutual funds, institutional investors
Why is financial stability essential for key currencies in the international monetary system?
Linda Goldberg, Signe Krogstrup, John Lipsky, Hélène Rey 26 July 2014
The dollar’s dominant role in international trade and finance has proved remarkably resilient. This column argues that financial stability – and the policy and institutional frameworks that underpin it – are important new determinants of currencies’ international roles. While old drivers still matter, progress achieved on financial-stability reforms in major currency areas will greatly influence the future roles of their currencies.
Could the dollar lose its status as the key international currency for international trade and international financial transactions, and if so, what would be the principal contributing factors? Speculation about this issue has long been abundant, and views diverse. After the introduction of the euro, there was much public debate about the euro displacing the dollar (Frankel 2008). The monitoring and analysis included in the ECB’s reports on “The International Role of the Euro” (e.g.
Financial markets International finance
reserve currency, financial stability, dollar, capital flows, spillovers, Currency, SIFIs
Financial stability and monetary policy
Gabriel Chodorow-Reich 27 July 2014
The monetary policies implemented by the Federal Reserve since late 2008 have raised concerns about the risk taking of financial institutions. This column discusses the effect of some of these policies on life insurance companies and market mutual funds. While the effect on life insurance companies has been stabilising, money market funds did not actively reach for yield.
In the winter of 2008, the Federal Reserve began an unprecedented campaign to combat the economic downturn. The mix of policy instruments included a near zero federal funds rate, explicit communication regarding the forward path of the funds rate, and a balance sheet that ballooned to more than $4 trillion as of this writing. With memories of the 2008-09 financial crisis still fresh, the policies have prompted concern for their effect on financial stability (Bernanke 2013, Stein 2013, Fisher 2014, Yellen 2014).
Financial markets Monetary policy
financial stability, mutual funds, life insurance
Repairing the transmission of monetary policy through asset-backed securitisation
Markus K Brunnermeier, Yuliy Sannikov 03 June 2014
Eurozone monetary policy transmission is broken. A key aspect of this is the failure of credit to get to small and medium enterprises, and consumers. This column uses the ‘I theory of money’ to diagnosis the problem and propose ‘prudently designed’ asset-backed securitisation as the cure. This would transform illiquid SME and consumer loans into a liquid asset class that would broaden the transmission mechanism while providing a lasting intermediation market for this segment in the Eurozone.
Recent data show a decline in credit to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and private loans. Lack of credit growth to productive firms is one of the main obstacles to reignite the European growth engine.
monetary policy, price stability, financial stability, securitisation, risk premia, asset backed securities
Spillovers from systemic bank defaults
Mark Mink, Jakob de Haan 24 May 2014
To date, much uncertainty exists about how large the spillovers would be from the default of a systemically important bank. This column shows evidence that the market values of US and EU banks hardly respond to changes in the default risk of banks that the Financial Stability Board considers globally systemically important (G-SIBs). However, changes in all G-SIBs’ default risk explain a substantial part of changes in bank market values. These findings have implications for financial-crisis management and prevention policies.
Financial-crisis management and prevention policies often focus on mitigating spillovers from the default of systemically important banks. During the recent crisis, governments avoided large bank failures by insuring and purchasing intermediaries’ troubled assets, by providing them with capital injections, and even by outright nationalisations. After the crisis, financial regulators designed additional requirements for those institutions that the Financial Stability Board designated as globally systemically important banks (G-SIBs).
financial stability, spillovers, regulation, banking, banks, systemic risk
The two faces of cross-border banking flows: An investigation into the links between global risk, arms-length funding, and internal capital markets
Dennis Reinhardt, Steven Riddiough 07 May 2014
Cross-border funding between banks collapsed following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, but the withdrawal of funding was not uniform across countries. This column argues that the composition of cross-border bank-to-bank funding can help to explain why. Interbank funding between unrelated banks is particularly vulnerable to global shocks, but intragroup funding between related banks can act as a stabilising force, particularly for advanced economies with a high share of global parent banks. Policymakers should look at disaggregated cross-border bank-to-bank flows, as doing otherwise could result in a misleading assessment of financial stability risks.
Following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, global risk spiked and the world witnessed a collapse in cross-border funding between banks. On closer inspection, however, not all countries’ banking systems experienced a withdrawal of cross-border finance. In fact, a number actually enjoyed an inflow of funding from banks overseas (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Cross-border bank-to-bank flows following the collapse of Lehman Brothers
Financial markets International finance
financial stability, banking, Wholesale funding, interbank lending, Cross-border lending, cross-border banking
Exploring the transmission channels of contagious bank runs
Martin Brown, Stefan Trautmann, Razvan Vlahu 10 April 2014
Contagious bank runs are an important source of systemic risk. However, with observational data it is near-impossible to disentangle the contagion of bank runs from other potential causes of correlated deposit withdrawals across banks. This column discusses an experimental investigation of the mechanisms behind contagion. The authors find that panic-based deposit withdrawals can be strongly contagious across banks, but only if depositors know that the banks are economically related.
Financial contagion – the situation in which liquidity or insolvency risk is transmitted from one financial institution to another – is viewed by policymakers and academics as a key source of systemic risk in the banking sector. In particular, the events in the 2007–2009 Global Crisis have turned the attention of policymakers towards the potential contagion of liquidity withdrawals across banks and the resulting implications for financial stability.
experimental economics, financial stability, financial crisis, global crisis, banking, contagion, banks, systemic risk, bank runs