Archive for the ‘Banking & Financial Institutions’ Category

The New Financial Industry

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Tuesday April 22, 2014 at 9:15 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Tom C.W. Lin of Temple Law School.

The recent discussions surrounding Michael Lewis’s new book, Flash Boys, revealed a profound and uncomfortable truth about modern finance to the public and policymakers: Machines are taking over Wall Street. Artificial intelligence, mathematical models, and supercomputers have replaced human intelligence, human deliberation, and human execution in many aspects of finance. The modern financial industry is becoming faster, larger, more complex, more global, more interconnected, and less human. An industry once dominated by humans has evolved into one where humans and machines share dominion.

…continue reading: The New Financial Industry

US Intermediate Holding Company: Structuring and Regulatory Considerations for Foreign Banks

Posted by Kobi Kastiel, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Monday April 14, 2014 at 9:33 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Luigi L. De Ghenghi and Andrew S. Fei, attorneys in the Financial Institutions Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and is based on a Davis Polk client memorandum; the full publication, including diagrams, tables, and flowcharts, is available here.

The Federal Reserve’s Dodd-Frank enhanced prudential standards (“EPS”) final rule requires a foreign banking organization with $50 billion or more in U.S. non-branch/agency assets (“Foreign Bank”) to place virtually all of its U.S. subsidiaries underneath a top-tier U.S. intermediate holding company (“IHC”). The IHC will be subject to U.S. Basel III, capital planning, Dodd-Frank stress testing, liquidity, risk management requirements and other U.S. EPS on a consolidated basis.

…continue reading: US Intermediate Holding Company: Structuring and Regulatory Considerations for Foreign Banks

Stress Tests Demonstrate Strong Capital Position of US Banks

Posted by Noam Noked, co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Thursday April 10, 2014 at 9:21 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and is based on a Sullivan & Cromwell publication by H. Rodgin Cohen, Andrew R. Gladin, and Joel Alfonso.

On March 20, 2014, the Federal Reserve announced the summary results of the Dodd-Frank Act 2014 supervisory stress tests for the 30 largest U.S. banking organizations. The results demonstrate the sharply enhanced capital strength and resiliency of the U.S. banking system. Under an “extreme stress scenario”, these U.S. banking organizations could absorb an extraordinary downturn in “pre-provision net revenues” and an unprecedented level of loan losses and still maintain capital levels well above minimum regulatory requirements and almost 40% above the actual capital ratios in 2009.

…continue reading: Stress Tests Demonstrate Strong Capital Position of US Banks

Regulation by Hypothetical

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Wednesday April 9, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Mehrsa Baradaran at the University of Georgia, School of Law.

U.S. banking regulation resembles a cat-and-mouse game of industry change and regulatory response. Often, a crisis or industry innovation will lead to a new regulatory regime. Past regulatory regimes have included geographic restrictions, activity restrictions, disclosure mandates, risk management rules, and capital requirements. But the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Act introduced a new strain of banking-industry supervision: regulation by hypothetical. Regulation by hypothetical refers to rules that require banks to predict future crises and weaknesses. Those predictions—which by definition are speculative—become the basis for regulatory intervention. Two illustrative instances of this regulation were codified in Dodd-Frank: stress tests and living wills. They are two pillars on which Dodd-Frank builds to manage risk in systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs). [1] As I argue in my forthcoming article, regulation by hypothetical in Dodd-Frank should be abandoned for three reasons: it relies on a faulty premise, tasks an agency with a conflicted mission, and likely exacerbates the moral hazards involved with governmental sponsorship of private institutions. Because of these weaknesses, the regulation-by-hypothetical regime must be either abandoned (my first choice) or strengthened. One way to strengthen these hypothetical scenarios would be to conduct financial war games.

…continue reading: Regulation by Hypothetical

The Labor Market for Bankers and Regulators

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Tuesday April 8, 2014 at 9:16 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Philip Bond of the Department of Finance and Business Economics at the University of Washington, and Vincent Glode of the Department of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania.

The financial industry is heavily regulated. Whether it is in terms of spending or number of employees, financial regulation represents more than a third of all business- and industry-related regulation in the United States (De Rugy and Warren, 2009), even though the financial sector only contributes to 10% of the country’s GDP. However, many commentators express grave doubts about the current efficacy of financial regulation. For example, The Economist published a 2010 article entitled “Finance’s other bosses” in which it asked: “Does it really matter who is in charge of the regulators? The grunt work of supervision depends on more junior staff, who will always struggle to keep tabs on smarter, better-paid types in the firms they regulate.”

…continue reading: The Labor Market for Bankers and Regulators

What It Takes for the FDIC SPOE Resolution Proposal to Work

Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Karen Petrou, co-founder and managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, Inc., and is based on a letter and a FedFin white paper submitted to the FDIC by Ms. Petrou; the full texts are available here.

In a comment letter and supporting paper to the FDIC on its single-point-of-entry (SPOE) resolution concept release, Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, argues that SPOE is conceptually sound and statutorily robust. However, progress to date on orderly liquidation has been so cautious as to cloud the credibility of assertions that the largest U.S. financial institutions, especially the biggest banks, are no longer too big to fail (“TBTF”). Crafting a new resolution regime is of course a complex undertaking that benefits from as much consensus as possible. However, if definitive action is not quickly taken on a policy construct for single-point-of-entry resolutions resolving high-level questions about its practicality and functionality under stress, markets will revert to TBTF expectations that renew market distortions, place undue competitive pressure on small firms, and stoke systemic risk. Even more dangerous, the FDIC may not be ready when systemic risk strikes again.

Questions addressed in detail in the paper and Ms. Petrou’s answers to them are summarized below:

…continue reading: What It Takes for the FDIC SPOE Resolution Proposal to Work

Excess Risk Taking and Competition for Managerial Talent

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Monday March 31, 2014 at 9:07 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Viral Acharya, Professor of Finance at NYU; Marco Pagano, Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Naples Federico II; and Paolo Volpin, Professor of Finance, Cass Business School.

Excessive risk-taking by financial institutions and overly generous executive pay are widely regarded as key factors in the 2007-09 crisis. In particular, it has become commonplace to blame banks and securities companies for compensation packages that reward managers (and more generally, other risk-takers such as traders and salesmen) generously for making investments with high returns in the short run but large risks that emerge only in the long run. As governments have been forced to rescue failing financial institutions, politicians and the media have stressed the need to cut executive pay packages and rein in incentives based on options and bonuses, making them more dependent on long-term performance and in extreme cases eliminating them outright. It is natural to ask whether this is the right policy response to the problem. It is crucial to ask what is the root of the problem—that is, precisely which market failure produced excessive risk-taking.

…continue reading: Excess Risk Taking and Competition for Managerial Talent

Too-Big-To-Fail Banks Not Guilty As Not Charged

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Friday March 28, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Nizan Geslevich Packin of the University of Pennsylvania Law School; Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York.

In the paper, Breaking Bad? Too-Big-To-Fail Banks Not Guilty As Not Charged, forthcoming in the Washington University Law Review, Vol. 91, No. 4, 2014, I focus on the benefits that the largest financial institutions receive because they are too-big-to-fail. Since the 2008 financial crisis, rating agencies, regulators, global organizations, and academics have argued that large banks receive significant competitive advantages because the market still perceives them as likely to be saved in a future financial crisis. The most significant advantage is a government implicit subsidy, which stems from this market perception and enables the largest banks to borrow at lower interest rates. And while government subsidies were the subject of a November 2013 Government Accounting Office report, in the paper I focus on a specific aspect of the benefits the largest banks receive: the economic advantages resulting from exempting the largest financial institutions from criminal statutes. I argue that this exemption—which has been widely discussed in the media over the last few years, following several scandals involving large financial institutions—not only contributes to the subsidies’ economic value, but also creates incentives for unethical and even criminal activity.

…continue reading: Too-Big-To-Fail Banks Not Guilty As Not Charged

Nonbank SIFIs: No Solace for US Asset Managers

Posted by Noam Noked, co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Thursday March 27, 2014 at 9:19 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Dan Ryan, Chairman of the Financial Services Regulatory Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and is based on a PwC publication.

Ever since the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research (“OFR”) released its report on Asset Management and Financial Stability in September 2013 (“OFR Report” or “Report”), the industry has vigorously opposed its central conclusion that the activities of the asset management industry as a whole make it systemically important and may pose a risk to US financial stability.

Several members of Congress have also voiced concern with the OFR Report’s findings, particularly during recent Congressional hearings, as have commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Further complicating matters, a senior official of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) recently expressed alarm about banks working with alternative asset managers or shadow banks on “weak” leveraged lending deals.

…continue reading: Nonbank SIFIs: No Solace for US Asset Managers

Putting Integrity into Finance

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Wednesday March 26, 2014 at 9:04 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

The seemingly never ending scandals in the world of finance with their damaging effects on value and human welfare (that continue unabated in spite of all the various efforts to curtail the behavior that results in those scandals) argues strongly for an addition to the current paradigm of financial economics. In our paper, Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we summarize our new theory of integrity that reveals integrity as a purely positive phenomenon with no normative aspects whatsoever. Adding integrity as a positive phenomenon to the paradigm of financial economics provides actionable access (rather than mere explanation with no access) to the source of the behavior that has resulted in those damaging effects on value and human welfare, thereby significantly reducing that behavior. More generally, we argue that this addition to the paradigm of financial economics will create significant increases in economic efficiency, productivity, and aggregate human welfare.

…continue reading: Putting Integrity into Finance

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