The U.S. banking agencies have finalized higher leverage capital standards for the eight U.S. bank holding companies that have been identified as global systemically important banks (“U.S. G-SIBs”) and their insured depository institution (“IDI”) subsidiaries. The agencies also proposed important changes to the denominator of the U.S. Basel III supplementary leverage ratio (“SLR”). A number of these proposed changes are intended to implement the Basel Committee’s January 2014 revisions to the Basel III leverage ratio.
Posts Tagged ‘Leverage’
Pursuant to Section 165 of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Federal Reserve has issued a final rule to establish enhanced prudential standards for large U.S. bank holding companies (BHCs) and foreign banking organizations (FBOs).
U.S. BHCs: The final rule represents the latest in a series of U.S. regulations that apply heightened standards to large U.S. BHCs. As the graphic below illustrates, under the emerging post-Dodd-Frank prudential regulatory landscape for U.S. BHCs, the number and stringency of prudential standards generally increase with the size of the banking organization.
In our recent NBER working paper, Financing as a Supply Chain: The Capital Structure of Banks and Borrowers, we propose a novel framework to model joint debt decisions of banks and borrowers. Our framework combines the models used by bank regulators with the models used to explain capital structure in corporate finance. This structure can be used to explore the quantitative impact of government interventions such as deposit insurance, bailouts, and capital regulation.
In the paper, Bank Capital and Financial Stability: An Economic Tradeoff or a Faustian Bargain?, forthcoming in the Annual Review of Financial Economics, I review the literature on the relationship between bank capital and stability. Higher capital contributes positively to financial stability. On this issue, there seems to be little disagreement. There is, however, disagreement in the literature on whether the high leverage in banking serves a socially-useful economic purpose, and whether regulators should permit banks to operate with such high leverage despite its pernicious effect on bank stability, and this disagreement seems at least as strong as that over the causes of the subprime crisis (Lo (2012)). Some of the disagreement over higher capital requirements is between those who emphasize the potential benefits of this in terms of reducing systemic risk and those who believe that sufficiently high capital requirements will generate various costs (e.g., lower lending and liquidity creation and the migration of key financial intermediation services to the unregulated sector).
Following a robust 2012, the financing markets in 2013 continued their hot streak. Syndicated loan issuances topped $2.1 trillion, a new record in the United States. However, as in 2012, financing transactions in the early part of 2013 were devoted mostly to refinancings and debt maturity extensions rather than acquisitions. In fact, new money debt issuances were at record lows during the first half of 2013. The second half of 2013, though, saw an increase in M&A activity generally, and acquisition financing in the fourth quarter and early 2014 increased as a result.
On January 12, 2014 the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (Basel Committee) issued the near final version of its leverage ratio and disclosure guidance (B3LR). The B3LR will be subject to further calibration until 2017 with final implementation expected by January 1, 2018.
The B3LR makes a number of significant changes to the Basel Committee’s June 2013 consultative paper (Consultative Paper) by easing the approach to measuring the exposures of off-balance sheet items. These changes address the industry’s concern that the Consultative Paper’s definition of exposure was too expansive (i.e., the leverage ratio’s denominator was too large).
In January 2014, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision finalized its revisions to the Basel III leverage ratio. Compared to its June 2013 proposed revisions, the Basel Committee has made several important changes to the denominator of the Basel III leverage ratio, including with respect to the treatment of derivatives, securities financing transactions and certain off-balance sheet items.
In our paper, Managerial Risk Taking Incentives and Corporate Pension Policy, forthcoming in the Journal of Financial Economics, we examine whether the compensation incentives of top management affect the extent of risk shifting versus risk management behavior in pension plans.
The employee beneficiaries of a firm’s defined benefit pension plan hold claims on the firm similar to those held by the firm’s debtholders. Beneficiaries are entitled to receive a fixed stream of cash flows starting at retirement. The firm sponsoring the plan is required to set aside assets in a trust to fund these obligations, but if the sponsor goes bankrupt with insufficient assets to fund pension obligations, beneficiaries are bound to accept whatever reduced payouts can be made with the assets secured for the plan.
In our recent NBER working paper, Valuing Private Equity, to value PE investments, we develop a model of the asset allocation for an institutional investor (LP). The model captures the main institutional features of PE, including: (1) Inability to trade or rebalance the PE investment, and the resulting long-term illiquidity and unspanned risks; (2) GPs creating value and generating alpha by effectively managing the fund’s portfolio companies; (3) GP compensation, including management fees and performance-based carried interest; and (4) leverage and the pricing of the resulting risky debt. The model delivers tractable expressions for the LP’s asset allocation and provides an analytical characterization of the certainty-equivalent valuation of the PE investment.
Many academic researchers, policy makers, and other practitioners have concluded that fair value accounting can lead to suboptimal real decisions by firms, particularly financial institutions, and result in negative consequences for the financial system. This conclusion is sustained by the belief that fair value accounting was a major factor contributing to the 2008-2009 financial crisis by causing financial institutions to recognize excessive losses, which in turn caused excessive sales of assets and repayment of debt, thereby leading to procyclical accounting leverage. Leverage is procyclical when it decreases during economic downturns and increases during economic upturns. In our paper, Does Fair Value Accounting Contribute to Procyclical Leverage?, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we examine whether there exists any link between fair value accounting and procyclical accounting leverage.
To address this question, we develop a model of commercial bank actions taken in response to economic gains and losses on their assets throughout the economic cycle to meet regulatory leverage requirements. We focus on commercial banks because of the central role they play in the financial system and the allegation that their actions in response to fair value losses contributed to the financial crisis. Our model and empirical tests based on the model establish that procyclical accounting leverage for commercial banks only arises because of differences between regulatory and accounting leverage, and not because of fair value accounting.