3 06, 2024

FedFin on: Discount-Window Modernization

2024-06-03T17:00:38-04:00June 3rd, 2024|The Vault|

In addition to controversial provisions affecting bank-merger applications and stress-test transparency, legislation recently approved by the House Financial Services Committee includes a less-contentious provision forcing the Federal Reserve to reckon with longstanding problems affecting the use of its discount window, especially under stress conditions.  These problems were on costly evidence in March of 2023, when both Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank had extraordinary difficulty accessing the discount window due in part to ill-segregated collateral and early Fedwire closing….

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30 04, 2024

FedFin on: Public-Interest Regulation

2024-04-30T16:56:58-04:00April 30th, 2024|The Vault|

In conjunction with releasing its new fair-housing rule, FHFA yesterday also created a new office of “Public Interest Examination.”  In short, Fannie, Freddie, and the Home Loan Banks are henceforth – at least for the tenure of this President and FHFA director – to be held to standards that cement their role as public utilities, not privately-owned enterprises.  This is neither unexpected nor unjustified – after all, the regulated entities enjoy manifold taxpayer benefits and two are in conservatorship.  Still, it continues to make it even harder to turn the clock back on Fannie and Freddie or to return the Home Loan Banks to the quiet corners in which they and members enjoyed so many advantages.

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12 03, 2024

FedFin on: FHLBs Forced Into an Unflattering Limelight

2024-03-12T16:55:37-04:00March 12th, 2024|The Vault|

The President’s FY25 budget picks up FHFA’s recommendations, calling for statutory change to double the System’s affordable-housing commitment.  That won’t happen anytime soon, but a new CBO report strengthens FHFA’s hand in several areas well within its jurisdiction.

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4 03, 2024

Karen Petrou: The Madness of a Model and its Unfounded Policy Conclusion

2024-03-04T11:50:02-05:00March 4th, 2024|The Vault|

As the pending U.S. capital rules head into their own end-game, there is finally a good deal of talk about an issue long neglected in both public discourse and banking-agency thinking:  the extent to which higher bank capital rules accelerate credit-market migration.  Simple assertions that more capital means less credit are, as I’ve noted before, simplistic.  One must consider how banks reallocate credit exposures to optimize capital impact and, still more importantly, how the credit obligations banks decide to leave behind take a hike.  Now comes a new paper the Financial Times touts concluding that, thanks to shadow banks, “we can jack up capital requirements more.”  Maybe, but not judging by this study’s design.  Even with considerable charity, it can be given no better than the “very creative” grade which kind primary-school teachers accord nice tries.

The paper in question is by Bank of International Settlements staff.  It looks empirically – or so it says – at what it calls the U.S. banking sector’s share since the 1960s of what it lugubriously calls “informationally-sensitive loans.”  It documents a lot of numbers said to demonstrate lower bank lending share, using a model founded on both erroneous data and wild leaps to conclude in a fit of circular reasoning that more nonbank lending explains why there is less bank lending.  In the study’s words, “intermediaries themselves have adjusted their business models.”  What might have led banks to decades of technological intransigence and strategic indolence is neither clearly explained nor verified.

What …

8 11, 2023

FedFin on: Rebirth at 91

2023-11-08T16:55:16-05:00November 8th, 2023|The Vault|

Although FHFA calls its FHLB report a centenary event ahead of the System’s 2032 birthday, the agency clearly plans structural substantive reform well before that milestone.  Much of what’s planned will crimp FHLB profitability, increasing the importance of what would otherwise seem like tidying-up operational improvements to protect the viability of the System’s weaker Banks.  With its eye on keeping the System in line, FHFA does not even suggest it should be allowed by law or regulatory sleight-of-hand to issue MBS or …

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7 09, 2023

FedFin on: Living-Will Requirements

2023-09-07T16:39:01-04:00September 7th, 2023|The Vault|

In conjunction with proposing a new long-term debt (LTD) requirement for categories II, III, and IV banks, the Fed and FDIC are pursuing other ways to enhance resolvability. Among these is new guidance for large domestic and foreign banking organizations that requires U.S. banking organizations and foreign banking organization (FBO) intermediate holding companies (IHCs) along with all their insured depositories when any is over $100 billion to file resolution plans. These are also redesigned to make the plans much closer in substance to those mandated for GSIBs.

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8 06, 2023

FedFin on: Under Their Thumb and What a Big Thumb It Is

2023-06-14T16:20:52-04:00June 8th, 2023|The Vault|

As we will detail in a forthcoming in-depth report, the banking agencies’ new “guidance” on third-party vendors essentially brings all nonbank counterparties with whom banking organizations deal under the agencies’ enforcement thumb. As a result, nonbank mortgage companies, MIs, credit enhancers, and tech providers and even the GSEs – Home Loan Banks included – will be forced at the least to answer a lot of questions from the banking entities with whom they do pretty much any kind of business. And, if the agencies don’t like the answers, they now assert that they will issue enforcement orders not just against banks, but also nonbank entities to ensure they comply with the full panoply of safety-and-soundness standards referenced in the guidance along with ensuring appropriate consumer protection.

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15 05, 2023

Karen Petrou: How An Ill-Designed Special Assessment Is Sure To Scramble The Structure Of Federal Deposit Insurance

2023-05-15T11:52:36-04:00May 15th, 2023|The Vault|

As our forthcoming in-depth analysis will detail, the FDIC’s proposed special assessment raises a raft of policy problems not contemplated by the FDIC despite a steep price tag warranting careful thought at a time of financial instability and recessionary risk.  The FedFin analysis will detail the proposal, what the FDIC thinks, and what the proposal might do to whom, but here’s my opinion:  the FDIC’s decision to allocate blame for SVB and Signature’s failures to a select group of surviving larger banks is a politically-expedient violation of the principal of insurance and a terrible precedent for the future of federal deposit coverage.

First problem: the FDIC assigns blame to a large group of bigger banks even though its own analysis of the SVB and SBNY failures points to a different underlying reason for the systemic designation.  In the proposal, the FDIC targets large holdings of uninsured deposits even though both its post-mortem and the Fed’s of the two systemic failures cites bad management as the most important cause of death.  Both agencies do note the new risks posed by social-media runs that hastened the banks’ passing, but each also makes it clear that these new-age runs are an endemic challenge to bank resilience, not a risk unique to SVB and Signature or other banks with large amounts of uninsured deposits.  The FDIC proposal contains no explanation of why uninsured-depositories are the systemic rescue’s fall guys even though these deposits aren’t the cause of the two bank failures and the risks …

28 03, 2023

FedFin Assessment: Policy Implications of FDIC-Resolution Innovations

2023-04-03T12:48:36-04:00March 28th, 2023|The Vault|

As noted yesterday, the FDIC’s recent rescues have had several unusual features with implications not only for future policy, but also for pending special assessments to replenish the DIF for the $22.5 billion estimated costs to the Deposit Insurance Fund.  Analyzed here, new tools – e.g., voluntary liquidation, equity-appreciation rights, lines of credit – have determine the extent to which this estimate holds, how FHLB advances are treated in future resolutions, and the role the FDIC may play in companies that acquire failed IDIs….

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20 03, 2023

FedFin Analysis: Possible Cures for a Viral Run

2023-03-20T16:12:34-04:00March 20th, 2023|The Vault|

Among the most vexing issues in the wake of SVB’s failure is the extent to which social media may have led to the first “viral run,” a run akin to the meme-stock volatility that lead the SEC and others to fear a new form of “flash-crash” risk.  In this report, we assess current policy options related to deposit runs resulting from social media, an issue cited frequently by HFSC Chairman McHenry (R-NC) as a top priority as he begins work on post-SVB financial standards.  We note some remedies – e.g., a ban on deposit-related communication were they permissible under various constitutional and statutory free-speech edicts.

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

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