03 oct 2012
Deleveraging, Traditional versus Capital Markets Banking and the Urgent Need to Separate and Recapitalise G-SIFI Banks
Since the crisis, even with massive support from governments and central banks, widespread regulatory changes and promises from bank executives to improve the governance of risk, the world continues to see failures of Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions (G-SIFIs, like Dexia), and huge losses (most recently from JP Morgan). Banks refuse to lend to each other, the central banks have become the interbank market and ‘bad deleveraging’ bears down on the economy forcing job losses in small- and medium-sized companies. ‘Good deleveraging’ occurs via building capital, and in this respect the US approach to dealing with the crisis provides something of a lesson that policy makers in Europe should take note of. With respect to regulations, the paper shows that capital and liquidity rules create a bias against lending to the enterprise sector (that drives jobs and economic growth). With respect to G-SIFIs, the paper shows how movements in their balance sheets are dominated by derivatives, the exposure to which varies with the cycle in risk. Netting of derivatives provides no protection against market risk, and the collateral and margin calls associated with these swings is both pro-cyclical and dangerous. The paper argues the OECD case that the best way to deal with all of these issues – both materially reducing the risk that arises from too-big-to fail while encouraging well-capitalised retail banks get on with the job of lending to create jobs – is to separate retail banking from securities business and ensure the former is (particularly in Europe) well capitalised. In this respect the paper argues that the non-operating holding company approach with ring-fenced subsidiaries (close to the Vickers proposal in the UK) is perhaps a better model than the US Volcker rule.
03 oct 2012
Implicit guarantees for bank debt
The global financial crisis and the policy response to it have placed a sharp spotlight on the issue of implicit guarantees for bank debt. This report discusses the incidence of implicit government guarantees for bank debt, their determinants, and estimates of their value. It shows i) that the extent of implicit guarantees differs from one banking sector to another and, within a given banking sector, from one bank to another, ii) that implicit guarantees are higher the lower the bank’s stand-alone creditworthiness, the higher the creditworthiness of its sovereign and the relatively bigger the bank in its domestic context, iii) that the incidence of implicit guarantees increased since the beginning of the financial crisis, but has decreased more recently, iv) that this recent decrease can be explained to a large extent by declining sovereign strength and hence a reduced capacity of on the part of many sovereigns to provide for such guarantees, but is also consistent with ongoing efforts in many OECD countries to make bank failure resolution regimes and practices more effective, and v) that implicit guarantees persist. Implicit guarantees imply an undesirably close link between the value of bank and sovereign debt. They also imply significant funding cost advantages for the banks that benefit from them, thus implying competitive distortions and an invitation to beneficiary banks to use them and, perhaps, take on too much risk.
03 oct 2012
Bank deleveraging, the move from bank to market-based financing, and SME financing
Banks have been lowering their high pre-crisis leverage levels and are preparing for stricter regulatory capital requirements, and in the process have been reducing their lending. With the banking sector expected to shrink considerably, other actors, especially institutional investors, and new forms of financial intermediation will have to meet the credit needs of the economy. This may not only require enhancing and enlarging the perimeter of regulatory oversight, but may also need policy incentives to encourage new forms of market based lending, especially as it concerns financing long-term investment, including infrastructure, and SMEs. This was the background for the discussions at the April 2012 OECD Financial Roundtable that this note summarises. On the current outlook, participants agreed that recent policy actions in Europe have had a positive impact but more and longer-term policy actions will be needed to restore confidence among market participants and set the basis for recovery. Deleveraging is necessary but only about half-way completed. Regulatory reforms should support this process in a balanced way, avoid unintended consequences and help the transition towards increased non-bank intermediation by not imposing bank-like regulation on, e.g., insurance companies and hedge funds. Securitisation should be revitalised – perhaps with some (initial) government and regulatory support – to close the bank lending gap, especially for SME lending. Covered bonds can contribute in this, too, but their benefits may be limited, i.a. due to asset encumbrance. Mezzanine financing instruments could be useful for SME financing, and informal forms of equity financing could help small dynamic start-up companies.
03 oct 2012
Global imbalances and the development of capital flows among Asian countries
During the current global crisis, capital inflows into Asian countries have increased, leading to excess liquidity and the risk of potential asset bubbles. A sudden reversal of these inflows would have negative effects on the economies in question. Given the impact of global capital movements on domestic financial systems and thereby on domestic economies, in several Asian countries certain macro-prudential regulations have been put in place, and capital controls and micro-prudential regulations have re-emerged as important tools to handle the issues related to capital inflows from outside of the region. It is important to ensure that global imbalances do not become a source of instability. The issue, thoroughly discussed after the Asian crisis a decade ago, is "using Asian savings for Asian investments" through the development of bond markets and SME’s financial inclusion. Against the backdrop of huge potential demands for infrastructure investment in the Asian region, this note proposes the issuance of "infrastructure revenue bonds" to help develop bond markets in Asia. To facilitate financial inclusion of SMEs, which outnumber other types of business in Asia, this note also proposes creating an SME database and developing regional trust funds.