Efraim Benmelech, Ralf R Meisenzahl, Rodney Ramcharan, 11 June 2016

The US government’s ‘bailout of bankers’ in 2008-09 remains a highly controversial moment in economic policy. Many critics suggest that intervention to relieve household debt may have been more effective in stimulating economic recovery. This column suggests that without federal intervention to stabilise financial markets and recapitalise some non-bank lenders, the magnitude of the economic collapse might have been much worse. While household debt was incredibly important in reducing demand, the financial sector dislocations and the lack of credit also played a critical role.

Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Wensi Xie, 03 June 2016

There has been much research on the effects of banking crises, but corporate resilience to systemic crises is less well understood. This column uses data from 34 countries from 1990 to 2011 to analyse the role of social trust – societal expectations that people will behave honestly and cooperatively – in building corporate resilience. It finds that social trust facilitates access to trade credit, and dampens the harmful effects of crises on corporate profits and employment.

Charles Calomiris, Matthew Jaremski, 01 June 2016

Liability insurance is a fundamental part of banking regulation of today, but despite being accepted as best practice now, it did not expand out of the US until the second half of the 20th century. This column discusses economic and political explanations for the spread of liability insurance availability, and finds that a political explanation reflects the empirical evidence well. Liability insurance was preferable to other policies despite being inefficient, due to its use as political leverage. 

Liangliang Jiang, Ross Levine, Chen Lin, 20 May 2016

By creating liquidity, banks improve the allocation of capital and accelerate economic growth. This column uses evidence from US banks between 1984 and 2006 to evaluate the impact of competition amongst banks on their liquidity creation. It finds that an intensification of competition in the banking industry materially reduces liquidity creation. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that more profitable banks experience a smaller reduction in liquidity creation because of their ability to better absorb risk. Similarly, an intensification of competition reduces liquidity creation more among small banks, who are more engaged in relationship lending.

Stijn Claessens, Nicholas Coleman, Michael Donnelly, 18 May 2016

Since the Global Crisis, interest rates in many advanced economies have been low and, in many cases, are expected to remain low for some time. Low interest rates help economies recover and can enhance banks’ balance sheets and performance, but persistently low rates may also erode the profitability of banks if they are associated with lower net interest margins. This column uses new cross-country evidence to confirm that decreases in interest rates do indeed contribute to weaker net interest margins, with a greater adverse effect when rates are already low.    

Jean-Pierre Danthine, 04 May 2016

Since the Eurozone Crisis a host of monetary and fiscal instruments have been used to try to reinvigorate growth and achieve financial stability, with mixed results. Basel III’s counter-cyclical capital buffer (CCB) is one such instrument which was met with scepticism. This column uses evidence from the Swiss economy to show that given the right circumstances and political will, the CCB can achieve financial stability.

Eric Monnet, Damien Puy, 02 May 2016

Business cycles are generally viewed as having been less correlated during the Bretton Woods period, 1950-1971. This column discusses findings from a new database of quarterly industrial production for 21 countries from 1950 to 2014 based on IMF archival data. As it turns out, business cycle synchronisation was as strong before 1971 as it was after (up till the Global Crisis began in 2007). Moreover, deeper financial integration tends to de-synchronise national outputs from the world cycle, at least in non-crisis periods.

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.

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The U.S. Great Recession has pointed to the importance of the banking sector in originating, amplifying, and propagating financial shocks to the real side of the economy. In response to the downturn, there has been a great deal of new regulation to mitigate the effects of future financial crises. Quantitative structural models of the banking sector that avoid the Lucas critique are critical to conduct counterfactual policy to evaluate the effects of new regulation. One important factor in the effects of policy is banking industry market structure and competition among banks of different sizes. Regulation itself may effect market structure and the distribution of bank size. Understanding regulatory arbitrage and how competitiveness of the banking sector varies with changes in regulation is critical to understand the health of the financial system.

Anya Kleymenova, Andrew Rose, Tomasz Wieladek, 05 April 2016

Post-crisis banking is in trouble, with cross-border bank lending significantly slower than before. Many economists think that this is down to complications from government ownership. This column argues that although government ownership is not the only possible friction or reason for cross-border bank lending, it is an inhibitor of cross-border bank activity in both the UK and the US. If the same mechanism applies to other countries around the world, then global banking intermediation may rebound once again, once banks are privatised.

Jaap Bos, Ralph De Haas, Matteo Millone, 22 March 2016

Screening loan applicants is a key principle of sound banking, but it can be challenging when trustworthy information about applicants is not available. Many countries have therefore introduced credit registries that require banks to share borrower information. This column examines how the introduction of a new registry affected the functioning of the credit market in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mandatory information sharing allowed loan officers to lend more conservatively at both the extensive and intensive margins. The improved credit allocation improved loan quality and lender profitability.

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.

Philippe Bacchetta, Ouarda Merrouche, 16 January 2016

Economists now tend to stress the role of global banks in the transmission of the Global Crisis. This column argues that the retrenchment of Eurozone banks opened regulatory arbitrage opportunities for US banks. The fact that US banks, and in particular the most risky US banks, fully exploited these opportunities had a salubrious effect on credit-constrained corporates and employment. It seems the move from Basel I to Basel II with risk-sensitive capital requirements amplifies the credit cycle.

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The Cambridge Endowment for Research in Finance (CERF) welcomes submissions for its 2016 Corporate Finance Theory Symposium to be held in Cambridge UK, Cambridge Judge Business School,  16-17 September 2016.

The symposium covers all areas of theoretical corporate finance, including theory papers that combine corporate finance theory with a related area such as banking, market micro-structure, asset pricing, and financial accounting.

We expect to have about 9 papers (each with a discussant) and one keynote speech. This year’s keynote speaker will be Anjan Thakor, John E. Simon Professor of Finance,Director of the PhD Programme, and Director of the WFA Center for Finance and Accounting Research.

Cristina Arellano, Andy Atkeson, Mark Wright, 10 January 2016

In the recent crisis in Southern Europe both sovereign governments and private citizens faced increased borrowing costs on their external debt. By contrast, no spillover to private borrowers occurred from the recent US state government debt crisis. This column argues that this different experience stems from much weaker European protections from government interference – the risk that governments will encumber private debt contracts by redenominating the currency of the contract, imposing capital controls, or passing debtor relief legislation. 

Sumit Agarwal, Souphala Chomsisengphet, Neale Mahoney, Johannes Stroebel, 09 January 2016

During the Great Recession, governments famously (and in some cases, infamously) provided banks with lower-cost capital and liquidity so that they would lend, expanding economic activity. This column assesses the efficacy of these policies, estimating marginal propensities to consume and borrow between 2008-2012.

Daniel Gros, Willem Pieter De Groen, 15 December 2015

Banking policy remains of great importance in the aftermath of the Global Crisis. This column presents recent research on the ability of the Single Resolution Fund to weather any future crisis scenario imaginable. The fund will be built up gradually over the coming decade, but as the losses from any future banking crisis are also likely to arise over a long period of time, the Single Resolution Fund should be sufficient to deal even with a crisis of similar proportions to the last one.

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. 

Jakob de Haan, Wijnand Nuijts, Mirea Raaijmakers, 06 November 2015

The Global Crisis revealed serious deficiencies in the supervision of financial institutions. In particular, regulators neglected organisational culture at the institutional level. This column reviews efforts since 2011 by De Nederlandsche Bank to oversee executive behaviour and cultures at financial institutions. These measures aimed at identifying risky behaviour and decision-making processes at a sufficiently early stage for appropriate countermeasures to be implemented. The findings show that regulators can play a larger part in securing the stability of the financial system by taking an active role in shaping institutional cultural processes.

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CEPR Policy Research