Manuel A. Muñoz, 14 November 2020

Institutional real estate investment has more than quadrupled in the euro area since 2013, financed largely through non-bank lending, which is not subject to regulatory loan-to-value limits. This column uses a two-sector model of institutional real estate investors calibrated to quarterly data from the euro area economy to show that optimised (countercyclical) loan-to-value rules limiting the borrowing capacity of such investors are more effective in smoothing property price, credit, and business cycles than the well investigated dynamic loan-to-value rules that affect (indebted) households’ borrowing limit. The findings call for a strengthening of the macroprudential regulatory framework for non-banks.

Ramin Baghai, Rui Silva, Viktor Thell, Vikrant Vig, 18 May 2020

Businesses worldwide are reeling from the fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a surge in bankruptcies is expected. Using micro-data and a large sample of Swedish bankruptcies from 2003 to 2011, this column documents how firms lose workers with the highest cognitive and noncognitive skills as they approach bankruptcy. Historical analysis suggests that the current high levels of leverage, combined with the reliance on skilled labour in modern firms, will pose unique challenges to businesses trying to weather the storm ahead.

Mike Harmon, Victoria Ivashina, 29 April 2020

Over the past decade, low interest rates attracted borrowers to leveraged credit markets, which have since reached an unprecedented size and risk. The collision of a highly leveraged corporate sector with the severe economic shock from COVID-19 has created unique financial problems. This column analyses the main vulnerabilities in the loan market and evaluates the current US government response. Although the current stimulus programmes are significant, they can be improved to better target at-risk businesses, mitigate moral hazard, and optimise the level of direct government funding.

Rawley Heimer, Alp Simsek, 03 August 2019

Policymakers for long have attempted to curb financial speculation while preserving markets for useful trading. This column analyses the impact of a recent US policy which restricts leverage in the foreign exchange market. It finds that the policy reduced speculative trading without impeding markets, and thus provides important lessons to address excessive growth in financial markets. 

Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 13 February 2019

Şebnem Kalemli-Özcan of the University of Maryland talks about debt overhang as a big contributor to the low investment that persists in Europe ten years after the crisis, and why a big data approach is the best way to solve the problem.

Gene Ambrocio, Iftekhar Hasan, Esa Jokivuolle, Kim Ristolainen, 06 February 2019

Emin Dinlersoz, Henry Hyatt, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Veronika Penciakova, 09 January 2019

The financing behaviour of private US firms has been somewhat neglected in the firm dynamics literature. This column presents a new dataset for studying these firms’ behaviour and explores how the Great Recession affected their growth. The results show substantial heterogeneity in leverage by firm age and size among private firms, but not among public firms. 

Jiangze Bian, Zhiguo He, Kelly Shue, Hao Zhou, 09 December 2018

Excessive leverage and subsequent deleveraging-induced fire sales have been major contributors in past financial crises. This column explores the behaviour of two types of margin investors– brokerage-financed and shadow-financed – during a tumultuous period for the Chinese stock market. Results show that for accounts with exposure to fire sale risk, shadow-financed accounts account for a much higher proportion of the total stock market capitalisation than brokerage-financed accounts.

Tobias Adrian, John Kiff, 01 December 2018

The financial system has undergone far-reaching changes since the 2008 Global Crisis. This column casts those changes in terms of shifts in the way financial intermediaries manage their balance sheets, and also discusses the regulatory reform agenda and reviews the impact of regulations on market liquidity and credit availability. The current evidence suggests that the financial system has become safer, at limited unintended cost.

Jean-Pierre Danthine, 21 November 2017

There is little doubt that one of the main causes of the Global Crisis was excessive risk-taking by large international financial institutions. This column argues that the combination of very high leverage and limited liability continues to incentivise risky behaviour by bankers. Dealing with this problem requires the alignment of bankers’ incentives with those of society, rather than of shareholders. Deferred compensation in the form of contingent convertibles presents one promising strategy.

Charles Abuka, Ronnie Alinda, Camelia Minoiu, José-Luis Peydró, Andrea Presbitero, 29 June 2017

Existing studies suggest that the effects of monetary policy in developing countries on credit and the real economy are weak. This column challenges this view using rich loan-level credit register data from Uganda. It shows that monetary policy tightening significantly reduces credit supply – especially for banks with greater leverage and sovereign debt exposure – and identifies spillovers on inflation and economic activity. The effects are larger in more financially developed areas, highlighting the importance of financial development for policy effectiveness.

Laura Alfaro, Gonzalo Asis, Anusha Chari, Ugo Panizza, 13 June 2017

Leverage levels in emerging market firms rose dramatically in the aftermath of Global Crisis. This column examines whether concerns of a repeat of the Asian financial crisis, which was largely attributed to corporate financial roots, are justified. While firm financial fragility is more widespread, it is less severe than in the period preceding the Asian Financial Crisis. However, certain large firms with high levels of foreign currency leverage are a potential key source of vulnerability in the transmission of adverse shocks such as exchange rate depreciations. 

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.

Benjamin Nelson, Gabor Pinter, Konstantinos Theodoridis, 16 March 2015

There has been an extensive debate over whether central banks should raise interest rates to ‘lean against’ the build-up of leverage in the financial system. This column reports on empirical evidence showing that, in contrast to the conventional view, surprise monetary contractions have tended to increase shadow bank asset growth, rather than reduce it in the US. Monetary policy had the opposite effect on commercial bank asset growth. These findings cast some doubt on the idea that monetary policy could be used to “get in all the cracks” of the financial system in a uniform way.

Thorsten Beck, 10 November 2014

The ECB has published the results of its asset quality review and stress tests of Eurozone banks. This column argues that, while this process had clear shortcomings, it still constitutes a huge improvement over the three previous exercises in the EU. Nevertheless, the banking union is far from complete, and the biggest risk now is complacency. A long-term reform agenda awaits Europe.

Charles Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth, 03 November 2014

There has been a long-term downward trend in labour’s share of national income, depressing both demand and inflation, and thus prompting ever more expansionary monetary policies. This column argues that, while understandable in a short-term business cycle context, this has exacerbated longer-term trends, increasing inequality and financial distortions. Perhaps the most fundamental problem has been over-reliance on debt finance. The authors propose policies to raise the share of equity finance in housing markets; such reforms could be extended to other sectors of the economy.

John Graham, Mark Leary, Michael Roberts, 06 May 2014

During the recent financial crisis, not much attention has been paid to the indebtedness of non-financial corporations, as little is known about what drives their financing. This column looks at financial policies of non-financial corporations over the last century. It shows evidence that a primary factor affecting the amount of corporate borrowing is the amount of borrowing by the government. Government borrowing crowds out the ability of the corporate sector to borrow. Thus, policymakers should be cautious in altering government policies in an attempt to reduce corporate debt usage.

Vincent O'Sullivan, Stephen Kinsella, 17 December 2011

The capital shortfall at EU banks is 8% higher than originally thought, according to the latest assessment from the European Banking Authority. This column examines the evolution of loan-to-deposit ratios in big European banks. It says banks have been buying back their debt securities, hoarding profits, limiting bonuses, and deleveraging. However, write-downs of sovereign debt have largely offset these efforts.

Sergi Lanau, 19 July 2011

The global crisis has forced a root-and-branch rethink of financial regulation. This column discusses the international dimensions. It presents new evidence to suggest that non-banks tend to borrow more abroad when domestic regulation is tight.

Thomas Philippon, Virgiliu Midrigan, 16 May 2011

In the recent US recession, those states which saw the biggest increases in household leverage during the credit boom suffered greatest hits to output and employment rates. The authors of CEPR DP 8381 try to understand this anomaly with a new model of a cash-in-advance economy, where economic activity is highly sensitive to credit conditions. They argue that this framework supports the use of expansionary monetary policy to mitigate recessions.



CEPR Policy Research