Market Failures and Official Sector Interventions
In the United States and other free market economies, the official sector typically has minimal involvement in market activities absent a clear rationale to justify intervention, such as a market failure. In this post, we consider arguments for official sector intervention, focusing on the market failure arising from externalities related to business closures. These externalities are likely to be particularly high for closures arising from pandemic-related economic disruptions. We discuss how the official sector, including institutions such as Congress and the Treasury, can increase social ...
Do underwriters matter? The impact of the near loss of an equity underwriter
The financial crisis provides a natural experiment for testing theoretical predictions of the equity underwriter's role following an initial public offering. Clients of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Wachovia saw their stock prices fall almost 5 percent, on average, on the day it appeared that their equity underwriter might collapse. Representing a loss in equity value of more than $3 billion, the decline was more than 1 percent lower than the conditional return predicted by a market model. The price impact was worse for companies with more opaque operations and fewer ...
The Banking Industry and COVID-19: Lifeline or Life Support?
By many measures the U.S. banking industry entered 2020 in good health. But the widespread outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and the associated economic disruptions have caused unemployment to skyrocket and many businesses to suspend or significantly reduce operations. In this post, we consider the implications of the pandemic for the stability of the banking sector, including the potential impact of dividend suspensions on bank capital ratios and the use of banks’ regulatory capital buffers.
Do big banks have lower operating costs?
This study examines the relationship between bank holding company (BHC) size and components of noninterest expense (NIE) in order to shed light on the sources of scale economies in banking. Drawing on detailed expense information provided by U.S. banking firms in the memoranda of their regulatory filings, the authors find a robust negative relationship between size and normalized measures of NIE. The relationship is strongest for employee compensation expenses and components of ?other? noninterest expense such as information technology and corporate overhead expenses. In addition, the authors ...
It’s What You Say and What You Buy: A Holistic Evaluation of the Corporate Credit Facilities
We evaluate the impact of the Federal Reserve corporate credit facilities (PMCCF and SMCCF). A third of the positive effect on prices and liquidity occurred on the announcement date. We document immediate pass-through into primary markets, particularly for eligible issuers. Improvements continue as additional information is shared and purchases begin, with the impact of bond purchases larger than the impact of purchases of ETFs. Exploiting cross-sectional evidence, we see the greatest impact on investment grade bonds and in industries less affected by COVID, concluding that the improvement in ...
Implications of the COVID-19 Disruption for Corporate Leverage
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic disruptions among U.S. corporations. In this post, we study the preliminary impact of these disruptions on the cash flow and leverage of public U.S. corporations using public filings through April 2020. We find that the pandemic had a negative impact on cash flow while also reducing corporations’ interest expenses. However, the cash flow shock far outpaced the benefits of lower interest payments, especially in industries that were disproportionately levered. Looking ahead, we find that a sizable share of U.S. corporations have interest ...
How Has COVID-19 Affected Banking System Vulnerability?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in banks’ balance sheets. To understand how these changes have affected the stability of the U.S. banking system, we provide an update of four analytical models that aim to capture different aspects of banking system vulnerability.
Supervising large, complex financial institutions: what do supervisors do?
The supervision of large, complex financial institutions is one of the most important, but least understood, activities of the Federal Reserve. Supervision entails monitoring and oversight to assess whether firms are engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, and to ensure that firms take appropriate action to correct such practices. It is distinct from regulation, which involves the development and promulgation of the rules under which firms operate. This article brings greater transparency to the Federal Reserve?s supervisory activities by considering how they are structured, staffed, and ...
Expanding the Toolkit: Facilities Established to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Federal Reserve’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented in its size and scope. In a matter of months, the Fed has, among other things, cut the federal funds rate to the zero lower bound, purchased a large amount of Treasury securities and agency mortgage‑backed securities (MBS) and, together with the U.S. Treasury, introduced several lending facilities. Some of these facilities are very similar to ones introduced during the 2007-09 financial crisis while others are completely new. In this post, we argue that the new facilities, while unprecedented, are a natural ...
Low Interest Rates and Bank Profits
The Fed’s December 2015 decision to raise interest rates after an unprecedented seven-year stasis offers a chance to assess the link between interest rates and bank profitability. A key determinant of a bank’s profitability is its net interest margin (NIM)—the gap between an institution’s interest income and interest expense, typically normalized by the average size of its interest-earning assets. The aggregate NIM for the largest U.S. banks reached historic lows in the fourth quarter of 2015, coinciding with the “low for long” interest rate environment in place since the ...