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Financial Stability Dossier ...
Reports of the European Forecasting Network (EFN)
Reports of the European Forecasting Network (EFN) The European Forecasting...
Structural Reforms in Banking: The Role of Trading
Journal of Financial Regulation,
In the wake of the recent financial crisis, significant regulatory actions have been taken aimed at limiting risks emanating from banks’ trading activities. The goal of this article is to look at the alternative reforms in the US, the UK and the EU, specifically with respect to the role of proprietary trading. Our conclusions can be summarized as follows: First, the focus on a prohibition of proprietary trading, as reflected in the Volcker Rule in the US and in the current proposal of the European Commission (Barnier proposal), is inadequate. It does not necessarily reduce risk-taking and it is likely to crowd out desired trading activities, thereby possibly affecting financial stability negatively. Second, trading separation into legally distinct or ring-fenced entities within the existing banking organizations, as suggested under the Vickers proposal for the UK and the Liikanen proposal for the EU, is a more effective solution. Separation limits cross-subsidies between banking and proprietary trading and diminishes contagion risk, while still allowing for synergies and risk management across banking, non-proprietary trading, and proprietary trading.
Four Research Clusters ...
Sovereign Credit Risk Co-movements in the Eurozone: Simple Interdependence or Contagion?
We investigate credit risk co-movements and contagion in the sovereign debt markets of 17 industrialized countries during the period 2008–2012. We use dynamic conditional correlations of sovereign credit default swap spreads to detect contagion. This approach allows us to separate contagion channels from the determinants of simple interdependence. The results show that, first, sovereign credit risk co-moves considerably, particularly among eurozone countries and during the sovereign debt crisis. Second, contagion varies across time and countries. Third, similarities in economic fundamentals, cross-country linkages in banking and common market sentiment constitute the main channels of contagion.
To Separate or not to Separate Investment from Commercial Banking? An Empirical Analysis of Attention Distortion under Multiple Tasks
IWH Discussion Papers,
In the wake of the 2008/2009 financial crisis, a number of policy reports (Vickers, Liikanen, Volcker) proposed to separate investment banking from commercial banking to increase financial stability. This paper empirically examines one theoretical justification for these proposals, namely attention distortion under multiple tasks as in Holmstrom and Milgrom (1991). Universal banks can be viewed as combining two different tasks (investment banking and commercial banking) in the same organization. We estimate pay-performance sensitivities for different segments within universal banks and for pure investment and commercial banks. We show that the pay-performance sensitivity is higher in investment banking than in commercial banking, no matter whether it is organized as part of a universal bank or in a separate institution. Next, the paper shows that relative pay-performance sensitivities of investment and commercial banking are negatively related to the quality of the loan portfolio in universal banks. Depending on the specification, we obtain a reduction in problem loans when investment banking is removed from commercial banks of up to 12 percent. We interpret the evidence to imply that the higher pay-performance sensitivity in investment banking directs the attention of managers away from commercial banking within universal banks, consistent with Holmstrom and Milgrom (1991). Separation of investment banking and commercial banking may indeed be associated with a reduction in risk in commercial banking.
Financial Stability and Central Bank Governance
International Journal of Central Banking,
The financial crisis has ignited a debate about the appropriate objectives and the governance structure of Central Banks. We use novel survey data to investigate the relation between these traits and banking system stability focusing in particular on their role in micro-prudential supervision. We find that the separation of powers between single and multiple bank supervisors cannot explain credit risk prior or during the financial crisis. Similarly, a large number of Central Bank governance traits do not correlate with system fragility. Only the objective of currency stability exhibits a significant relation with non-performing loan levels in the run-up to the crisis. This effect is amplified for those countries with most frequent exposure to IMF missions in the past. Our results suggest that the current policy discussion whether to centralize prudential supervision under the Central Bank and the ensuing institutional changes some countries are enacting may not produce the improvements authorities are aiming at. Whether other potential improvements in prudential supervision due to, for example, external disciplinary devices, such as IMF conditional lending schemes, are better suited to increase financial stability requires further research.