Retail bank runs are mostly a thing of the past. Every jurisdiction with a banking system has some form of deposit insurance, whether explicit or implicit. So, most customers can rest assured that they will be compensated even should their bank fail. But, while small and medium-sized depositors are extremely unlikely to feel the need to run, the same cannot be said for large short-term creditors (whose claims usually exceed the cap on deposit insurance). As we saw in the crisis a decade ago, when they are funded by short-term borrowing, not only are banks (and other intermediaries) vulnerable, the entire financial system becomes fragile.
This belated realization has motivated a large shift in the structure of bank funding since the crisis. Two complementary forces have been at work, one coming from within the institutions and the other from the authorities overseeing the system. This post highlights the biggest of these changes: the spectacular fall in uncollateralized interbank lending and the smaller, but still dramatic, decline in the use of repurchase agreements. The latter—also called repo—amounts to a short-term collateralized loan.... Read More
In the summer of 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s financial positions deteriorated sharply: the result of inadequate capital (equity financing) for the risks in the residential mortgages that they held and had securitized. On September 6, 2008, their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), removed senior management and placed these government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) into conservatorships. Since then, the FHFA and the U.S. Treasury (which extended almost $188 billion to keep them solvent through 2011) have run them... Read More
In the winter of 1997, musician David Bowie issued $55 million worth of bonds backed by royalty revenue from 287 songs he had written and recorded before 1990. The bonds had a 10-year maturity, a Moody’s A3 rating, and a 7.9% interest rate (at the time, the 10-year Treasury yield was around 6.5%, so the spread was relatively modest). “Bowie bonds” were no accident: by the late 1990s, the U.S. financial system had evolved to the point where virtually any payment stream could be securitized.
The success of U.S. securitization – as an alternative to bank finance – is a key factor behind the current push of euro-area authorities to increase securitization... Read More