Gaston Gelos, Nico Valckx, 27 July 2016

In recent years, the life insurance sector has become more systemically important across advanced economies. This increase is largely due to growing common exposures and to insurers’ rising interest rate sensitivity. This column analyses the evolution of the insurance sector’s contribution to systemic risk. Overall, life insurers do not seem to have markedly changed their asset portfolios toward riskier assets, although smaller and weaker insurers in some countries have taken on more risk. The findings suggest that supervisors and regulators should take a more macroprudential approach to the sector.

Giudici Paolo, Laura Paris, 30 June 2016

In April 2016, Italian banks set up an equity fund intended to recapitalise troubled financial institutions in a ‘private bail-out intervention’ scenario, with a view to avoiding a bail-in under the European Bank and Recovery Resolution directive. This column analyses the main differences between a bail-in and a bail-out scenario. In particular, it compares contagion effects, and thus the total default probabilities of financial institutions in these two circumstances, in order to establish which banks would benefit more from a bail-out rather than a bail-in.

Balazs Csullag, Jon Danielsson, Robert Macrae, 27 June 2016

Investor demand for bonds is very high. This column argues that this is surprising because under almost any likely inflation scenario, including central banks merely hitting their target inflation rates, bondholders suffer large losses. The beneficiaries are sovereign and corporate borrowers; the losers are pension funds, insurance companies and some foreign exchange reserve funds. Meanwhile, the systemic risk from a bond crisis is increasing.

Jon Danielsson, Robert Macrae, Jean-Pierre Zigrand, 24 June 2016

Brexit creates new opportunities and new risks for the British and EU financial markets. Both could benefit, but a more likely outcome is a fall in the quality of financial regulations, more inefficiency, more protectionism, and more systemic risk.

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The objective of this course is to present empirical applications (as well as the research methodologies) of relevant questions for both banking theory and policy, mainly related to Systemic Risk, Crises, Monetary Policy and Risk taking behaviour. An important objective is to understand scientific papers in empirical banking; to accomplish this objective, emphasis is placed on illustrating research methodologies used in empirical banking and learning the application of these methodologies to selected topics, such as:

- Securities and credit registers; large datasets

- Fire sales, runs, market and funding liquidity, systemic risk

- Risk-taking and credit channels of monetary policy

- Moral hazard vs. behavioral based risk-taking

- Secular stagnation, banking and debt crises

- Interbank globalization, contagion, emerging markets, policy

Jon Danielsson, Morgane Fouché, Robert Macrae, 10 June 2016

The threat to the financial system posed by cyber risk is often claimed to be systemic. This column argues against this, pointing out that almost all cyber risk is microprudential. For a cyber attack to lead to a systemic crisis, it would need to be timed impeccably to coincide with other non-cyber events that undermine confidence in the financial system and the authorities. The only actors with enough resources to affect such an event are large sovereign states, and they could likely create the required uncertainty through simpler, financial means. 

Christian Thimann, 31 May 2016

The IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report devotes for the first time a chapter to the systemic risks potentially associated with the insurance sector and how regulatory bodies should respond. This column examines the key points and proposes a way forward for the global regulatory framework for insurance. In particular, it argues for the importance of not treating the sector in the same way as the banking sector as the two operate very different business models. Similarly, for an activity-based approach, a regulatory focus on just nine ‘systemically important’ insurers rather than the sector as a whole is flawed.

Angus Armstrong, Philip Davis, 22 April 2016

Since the Global Crisis, a number of regulatory policies have been discussed, proposed and sometimes implemented to address shortcomings in the regulatory framework. This column presents the views of the speakers at a recent conference on whether we have reached an efficient outcome. For most of the speakers, the answer was a resounding “no”.

Franklin Allen, 22 April 2016

Designing good regulation requires a good knowledge of the systems to be regulated. In this video, Franklin Allen argues that we still have an imperfect understanding of systemic risk leading to difficulties in designing effective regulations. One of the problems stems from the fact that regulators still think in terms of macroeconomics instead of focusing on the financial side. This video was recorded at the 18th March 2016 conference on Financial Regulation organized by NIESR and held at the Bank of England. 

Roel Beetsma, Siert Vos, 23 February 2016

There is a broad consensus that banks and insurance companies may contribute to systemic risk in the financial system. For other financial market institutions, it is less clear-cut. This column examines the resilience of pension funds to severe shocks. While the evidence indicates that they are of low systematic importance, policy trends that apply to all financial players may undermine this. Specifically, risk-based solvency requirements carry the risk of homogenising the behaviour of all players, potentially amplifying shocks and destabilising markets.

Daniel Gros, 12 February 2016

The Eurozone’s ‘Banking Union’ created a system of banking supervision and a common institution to restructure troubled banks. There remain two issues, however, that need to be addressed:  banks are holding too much debt of their own sovereign, and deposit insurance is only backstopped at the national level. This column argues that these issues need to be addressed simultaneously for economic and political reasons. Specifically, periphery and core countries hold opposing positions on remedies to the respective problems. A combination of the two makes economic sense and could represent an acceptable political compromise.

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. 

Jon Danielsson, Jean-Pierre Zigrand, 07 August 2015

The long-running Greek crisis and China’s recent stock market crash are the latest threats to the stability of the global financial system. But as this column explains, systemic risk is an inevitable part of any market-based economy. While we won’t eliminate systemic risk entirely, the agenda for researchers and policymakers should be to create a more resilient financial system that is less prone to disastrous crises and that still delivers benefits for the economy and for society.

Xavier Freixas, Luc Laeven, José-Luis Peydró, 05 August 2015

There has been much talk about using macroprudential policy to manage systemic risk and reduce negative spillovers, but there is little agreement on how it could be operationalised. This column highlights the findings of a new book on the topic and offers a framework for operationalising macroprudential policy. Macroprudential measures, together with higher capital requirements, could be used to tame the build-up of leverage and credit booms in order to prevent financial crises.

Jon Danielsson, Jean-Pierre Zigrand, 05 August 2015

Some financial authorities have proposed designating asset managers as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs). This column argues that this would be premature and probably ill conceived. The motivation for such a step comes from an inappropriate application of macroprudential thought from banking, rather than the underlying externalities that might cause asset managers to contribute to systemic risk. Further, policy authorities are silent on the question of what SIFI designation should mean in practice, despite the inherent link between identification and remedy.

Gaston Gelos, Hiroko Oura, 25 July 2015

The growth of the asset management industry has raised concerns about its potential impacts on financial stability. This column assesses the systemic risk created by fund managers’ incentive problems and a first-mover advantage for end investors. Fund flows and fund ownership affect asset prices, and fund managers’ behaviour can amplify risks. This lends support to the expansion and strengthening of industry oversight, both at the individual fund and market levels.

Taylor Begley, Amiyatosh Purnanandam, Kuncheng Zheng, 08 May 2015

A key regulatory response to the Global Crisis has involved higher risk-weighted capital requirements. This column documents systematic under-reporting of risk by banks that gets worse when the system is under stress. Thus banks’ self-reported levels of risk are least informative in states of the world when accurate risk measurement matters the most.

Stefano Giglio, Bryan Kelly, Seth Pruitt, 03 April 2015

An important research question is whether the current measures of systemic risk are useful for policymakers. This column presents new evidence on this topic. The relevance of a measure depends on how informative it is regarding how financial distress translates into real macroeconomic outcomes. The findings indicate that few systemic risk measures predict macroeconomic shocks. Interestingly, the relationship between systematic risk and future macroeconomic shocks is not symmetric. 

Xavier Vives, 17 March 2015

The 2007–08 crisis revealed regulatory failures that had allowed the shadow banking system and systemic risk to grow unchecked. This column evaluates recent proposals to reform the banking industry. Although appropriate pricing of risk should make activity restrictions redundant, there may nevertheless be complementarities between these two approaches. Ring-fencing may make banking groups more easily resolvable and therefore lower the cost of imposing market discipline.

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