Max Bruche, Frédéric Malherbe, Ralf R Meisenzahl, 11 September 2017

Syndicated loan issuance has grown dramatically over the last 25 years. Over the period, the syndicated loan business model has evolved, affecting the nature of the associated risks that arranging banks are exposed to. This column introduces the concept of ‘pipeline’ risk –the risk associated with marketing the loans during the syndication process. Pipeline risk forces arranging banks to hold much larger shares of very risky syndicated term loans, which results in reduced lending by the arran­­ging bank not only in the syndicated term loan market, but in others as well.

Ricardo Caballero, Alp Simsek, 30 August 2017

Interest rates continue to decline across the globe, while returns to capital remain constant or increasing. The reasons for this widening risky-safe gap are wide-ranging. This column illustrates the secular rise of risk intolerance in the global economy, and summarises a new macroeconomic framework suitable for this environment. It uses this framework to discuss the current global macroeconomic context, its underlying fragility, and the coexistence of low equilibrium interest rates and high speculation.

Vittoria Cerasi, Sebastian M. Deininger, Leonardo Gambacorta, Tommaso Oliviero, 07 August 2017

Since 2011, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) has implemented compensation principles and standards for executives and material risk-takers in many financial institutions. This column presents evidence that banks in jurisdictions that adopted them changed their compensation policies more than other banks. Compensation in these banks is less linked to short-term profits and more linked to risk, and the CEOs of risky banks now receive less in bonuses and other variable compensation than their peers at less risky banks.

Alison Booth, Eiji Yamamura, 14 March 2017

Differences in attitudes to competition or risk may contribute to explaining gender gaps in wages and other labour market outcomes. This column analyses performance data from speedboat races in Japan revealing that women tend to race more slowly against men than against other women only, while men are faster in mixed-sex races. This finding may be driven by the skewed gender balance towards men in mixed-sex races triggering awareness of gender identity for both men and women, with implications for other activities in which men and women compete and women are outnumbered, such as the STEM disciplines.

Paul Whelan, 10 February 2017

Investing in stocks instead of bonds is risky. In this video, Paul Whelan discusses the importance of expected inflation. This video was recorded at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis in December 2016.

Söhnke Bartram, 11 January 2017

Anomalies have returns above risk factors. In this video, Söhnke Bartram discusses three reasons why anomalies exist, and their implications. This video was recorded at the Brevan Howard Center for Financial Analysis in December 2016.

Thorsten Beck, Elena Carletti, Itay Goldstein, 22 November 2016

The Global Crisis has led to a new wave of regulation. This column argues that improved capital requirements, liquidity requirements, bank resolution and cross-border regulatory cooperation are welcome, but that unresolved problems remain. Specifically, regulation may become too complex, focus too little on macroprudential risks, be inadequate to deal with crises in global financial institutions, or fail to cope with financial innovation.

Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Wensi Xie, 07 October 2016

Many policies have been put in place to constrain the expansion of banks across economic borders, in part to avoid them becoming too big and interconnected to fail. However, some argue that such expansion can reduce risk. This column evaluates the impact of geographic expansion on the cost of a bank’s interest-bearing liabilities. Geographic diversification materially lowers bank holding companies’ funding costs, suggesting there is a real cost of restricting banks from using geographic expansion to diversify their risks.

Friederike Niepmann, Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, 11 June 2016

To mitigate the risks of international trade for firms, banks offer trade finance products – specifically, letters of credit and documentary collections. This column exploits new data from the SWIFT Institute to establish key facts on the use of these instruments in world trade. Letters of credit (documentary collections) cover 12.5% (1.7%) of world trade, or $2.3 trillion ($310 billion). 

Dennis Bams, Magdalena Pisa, Christian Wolff, 02 May 2016

In the absence of full information about small businesses’ risk of loan default, banks are unable to accurately calculate counterparty risk. This column suggests that banks can use industry and linked-industry data to better establish counterparty risk, because distress from one industry is transmitted to supplier and customer industries. A reliable and easily available signal for such distress is any failure reported by S&P.

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.

Di Gong, Harry Huizinga, Luc Laeven, 18 February 2016

Prior to the Global Crisis, banks could easily use off-balance sheet structures to lower their effective capitalisation rates. This column examines another way that US banks circumvented capital regulations – by maintaining minority-owned, non-consolidated subsidiaries. Had these subsidiaries been consolidated, average reported equity-to-assets ratios would have been 3.5% lower. These findings suggest that some US banks were actively misrepresenting the riskiness of their assets prior to the crisis.

Clemens Bonner, 03 January 2016

Economists continue to debate whether preferential treatment in financial regulation increases banks’ demand for government bonds. This column looks at bank purchases of government bonds and other types of bonds when constrained by a capital or liquidity requirement. Financial regulation seems to be a main driver of banks’ demand. If regulators wish to break the vicious circle from weak banks to weak governments, revising financial regulation seems to be a good starting point.

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.

Avinash Persaud, 20 November 2015

As the recent Financial Stability Board decision on loss-absorbing capital shows, repairing the financial system is still a work in progress. This column reviews the author’s new book on the matter, Reinventing Financial Regulation: A Blueprint for Overcoming Systemic Risks. It argues that financial institutions should be required to put up capital against the mismatch between each type of risk they hold and their natural capacity to hold that type of risk. 

Jerry Tsai, Jessica Wachter, 11 June 2015

The high equity premium and high volatility in equity markets have long been a puzzle. This column discusses how rare, economy-wide disasters can account for this conundrum, as well as for patterns in prices, consumption, and interest rates during the Great Recession.

Fatih Guvenen, Fatih Karahan, Serdar Ozkan, Jae Song, 29 April 2015

Many policy design issues depend crucially on the nature of the idiosyncratic risks to labour income. The earning dynamics literature has typically relied on an implicit or explicit assumption that earnings shocks are log-normally distributed. This column challenges conventional knowledge by bringing in new evidence from a very large administrative dataset on US workers. It presents evidence suggesting income shocks exhibit substantial deviations from log-normality, and that shock persistence depends on income levels as well as the size and sign of the shock.

Jon Danielsson, 18 January 2015

The Swiss central bank last week abandoned its euro exchange rate ceiling. This column argues that the fallout from the decision demonstrates the inherent weaknesses of the regulator-approved standard risk models used in financial institutions. These models under-forecast risk before the announcement and over-forecast risk after the announcement, getting it wrong in all states of the world.

Christine Exley, 27 December 2014

Decisions involving charitable giving often occur under the shadow of risk. A common finding is that potential donors give less when there is greater risk that their donation will have less impact. While this behaviour could be fully rationalised by standard economic models, this column shows that an additional mechanism is relevant – the use of risk as an excuse not to give. In light of this finding, this column also discusses how charities may benefit from structuring their donation requests in particular ways. 

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.