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Crisis and Response: Central Banks and the Financial Crisis
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Crisis and Response: Central Banks and the Financial Crisis

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  1. Crisis and Response: Central Banks and the Financial Crisis Stephen Cecchetti*Economic Adviser and Head, Monetary and Economic Department Bank for International Settlements* Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the BIS

  2. Outline • Prelude to a Crisis • Central Bank Tools • The Crisis Hits • Policy Response

  3. Ratio of Home Prices to Rents Source: Ratio of Federal Reserve Board flow of funds value of residential real estate, Table B. 100 line 4 to Bureau of Economic Analysis national income and product accounts housing service consumption, table 2.3.5 line 14.

  4. US Mortgage Market • Increase in leverage • Increase in securitization • Shift away from Traditional lending Note: GSE is “Government Sponsored Enterprise” and refers primarily to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

  5. Leverage Ratios and VaRs

  6. Securitization

  7. A Few Details • Subprime ABS • Often financed by commercial paper (SIVs) • Banks provided back up lines of credit • So long as house prices rise • Refinancing is straightforward • Estimation of default rates is unimportant

  8. Prelude to the Crisis • Home prices at unprecedented levels • Home owners had substantial leverage • Mortgage quality had declined • Asset-backed Securitization had spread • Created opaque instruments used as collateral

  9. The Central Bank Toolbox • Balance Sheet • Traditional Monetary Policy Tools

  10. Large

  11. small

  12. small

  13. Large

  14. Very Small

  15. Balance Sheet Management • Control the size • Control asset composition

  16. Traditional Monetary Policy Tool Box • Overnight/Short-term Interest Rate • Lending and Deposit Facility Rate

  17. The Crisis Hits • Thursday August 9, 2007 • ECB injected €94.8 billion overnight • Fed injected $24 billion overnight • Reserves supplied in response to bank demand • Symptoms • LIBOR • Commercial Paper

  18. Spread between 3-month LIBOR and 3-month Expected Federal Funds rate July 2007 to Present, daily

  19. US dollar LIBOR rates, in per cent

  20. 3 Month Treasury Bill

  21. US Commercial Bank Credit, billions of USD

  22. Commercial Paper

  23. The Crisis Hits • Risk premia increased • Increased reliance on bank financing • Difficult to value assets could not be used as collateral

  24. The Crisis • House prices decline • Default rates become difficult to estimate • Value of MBS and CDO becomes impossible to compute • Sub-prime collateral unacceptable • Banks • Lines of credit are drawn down • Loss in asset value reduces capital • Uncertainty about future write downs • Balance sheet capacity falls • Lenders • Face Increased Risk • Liquidity: Don’t know own capacity • Credit: Counterparty ability to repay • Capital Impairment • Reduce Lending • Raise Capital

  25. Two Types of Liquidity • Market Liquidity: Asset SpecificAbility to sell without moving price • Funding Liquidity: Institution Specific Ability of solvent institution to borrow

  26. Market Volatility  Asset Sales Drive Prices  Risk-based Capital & Margin  Market Liquidity Funding Liquidity Financial Institution Leverage  Liquidity Spirals: Modern Bank Runs

  27. Two types of actions • Balance sheet size: Fed funds target • Asset composition: Influence spreads

  28. Unconventional Federal Policy actions (cont.) • Pricing: Discount Rate • Method: Auctions • Term: Longer-term loans and repos • Swaps: Dollars to banks based outside the US • Securities Lending: US Treasurys for ABS • Counterparties: Primary Dealers, Money Market Funds • New Legal Entities: Maiden Lane LLC • Market making: Commercial Paper

  29. Contrast with the ECB • Eurosystem assets are largely repo • Regular Open Market Operations: • Up to 1700 counterparties (US has 19) • Broad collateral (US only Treasury & Agency) • European banks willing to borrow • Investment & commercial banks combined. • No need to • Reduce maturity of portfolio • Broaden collateral • Widen access

  30. Summary: • Boom and bust in price of leveraged assets • Change in financing patterns • Opaque & difficult to value instruments • Lack of transparency exacerbated principal-agent problem • Decline in asset prices led to liquidity spiral • Market illiquidity • Funding illiquidity

  31. Do Central Bankers Have the Tools? • Crisis management: Asset Composition • Sphere of influence: To whom do you lend? • Credit Risk: What do you accept as collateral? • Asset Holdings: What do you buy? • Crisis prevention: Traditional Tools • Regulation and Supervision • Lean against booms in prices of leverage asset

  32. Do Central Bankers Have the Tools? • Short-run: Yes • Emergency liquidity assistance buys time. • Financial Institutions must either • Reduce size of balance sheet (de-leverage) • Raise Capital

  33. Do Central Bankers Have the Tools? • Short-run: Yes • Emergency liquidity assistance buys time. • Financial Institutions must either • Reduce size of balance sheet (de-leverage) • Raise Capital • Long-run: No • Cannot de-leverage by borrowing! • Fiscal policy needs to step in.

  34. Broader Lessons • Need for Data on balance sheets and quantities • Role of Deposit Insurance • Organization of regulation & supervisions • Standardisation and trading in organized markets