China Moves Against Shadow Banking

China is slated to release its latest estimates for banking lending and aggregate financing in the coming days. Over the past 12-months bank lending accounted for about 53% of the total financing, the remainder comes from the shadow banking sector. In China, shadow banking often refers to the trust companies, which are non-bank lenders. At the […]

Bank Lending: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Global banks do not have much to cheer about these days. Earnings are falling, and the banks are responding by cutting jobs. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has charged 16 banks of colluding to rig the London Interbank Offer rate (LIBOR). And theFederal Reserve has approved a rule that requires foreign banks with $50 billion of assets […]

Fannie and Freddie Reform Is Necessary, but Not at Expense of Private-Sector Investment

Private investors and the government don’t always make easy bedfellows and nothing exemplifies this more than the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. After verging on collapse in 2008, the government-backed mortgage groups are now turning significant profits, but investors are not happy. Since their inception, the structure of Fannie and Freddie has been […]

Bank Profits—With A Little Help From The Fed!

Global stock prices have rallied significantly since 2009. Financial stocks have increased albeit off a low base, with US banks up by over 200%. But improvements in the fortune of banks may be misleading. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, financial markets have substituted the “obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real”. Central bank policies, especially low […]

Bank Profits – With A Little Help From The Fed!

Global stock prices have rallied significantly since 2009. Financial stocks have increased albeit off a low base, with US banks up by over 200%. But improvements in the fortune of banks may be misleading. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, financial markets have substituted the “obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real”. Central bank policies, especially low […]

What Do Bank Share Prices Tell Us About Chinese Growth?

Tom Holland had an interesting piece in the South China Morning Post three weeks ago in which he discusses the low valuations of Chinese banks. About a decade ago, if I remember correctly, Chinese banks were trading between three and four times book. Those valuations have dropped considerably since then: On Monday, the weighted average price-book value ratio for […]

Water Down the Volcker Rule at Markets’ Peril

The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal financial regulators may yet again carve a  loophole in the Volcker Rule. This time, the issue is whether banks subject to the rule’s proprietary trading prohibitions can hold collateralized loan obligations (CLOs)—structured products engineered out of commercial loans, just like good old collateralized debt obligations were engineered out of […]

Revisiting Banking Union in a Single Currency Area (Part 2)

The current banking union framework remains far from ideal if the currency union dimension is taken into account. While decisions so far have been focusing on the moral hazard of banks, these measures fail to solve an additional market failure in the Euro area caused by the moral hazard of governments competing on funding costs, […]

Repo Comes Under the Microscope

Introduction On 29 January 2014, the EU Commission published a legislative proposal for a regulation on reporting and transparency of securities financing transactions[1] (SFTs) and associated FAQ document. The EU Commission is concerned that efforts to reform the structure of EU banks (in the form of the Liikanen proposals – see this blog post for […]

Revisiting Banking Union in a Single Currency Area (Part 1)

Evidence suggests that financial integration in the Euro area is retrenching at a quicker pace than outside the union. Home bias persists. Meanwhile, governments continue to compete on their funding costs via interventions to support ‘their’ banks, avoiding spill over effects on costs of public debt but so distorting the level playing field with massive […]