Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2015-001: Loan Sales and Bank Liquidity Risk Management: Evidence from a U.S. Credit Register

Otmane El Rhazi, Rustom M. Irani and Ralf R. Meisenzahl. We examine the impact of banks' liquidity risk management on secondary loan sales. We track the dynamics of bank loan share ownership in the secondary market using data from the Shared National Credit Program, a credit register of syndicated bank loans administered by U.S. regulators. We analyze the 2007-2009 financial crisis as a market-wide liquidity shock and control for loan demand using a loan-year fixed effects approach. We find that banks with greater reliance on wholesale funding at the onset of the crisis were more likely to exit loan syndicates during the crisis. Our analysis identifies the importance of bank liquidity risk management as a motivation for loan sales, in addition to the credit risk transfer motive emphasized in prior literature. Full Text



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Monday, 29 December 2014

2014-114: Efficient Monte Carlo Counterparty Credit Risk Pricing and Measurement

Otmane El Rhazi, Samim Ghamami. Counterparty credit risk (CCR), a key driver of the 2007-08 credit crisis, has become one of the main focuses of the major global and U.S. regulatory standards. Financial institutions invest large amounts of resources employing Monte Carlo simulation to measure and price their counterparty credit risk. We develop efficient Monte Carlo CCR estimation frameworks by focusing on the most widely used and regulatory-driven CCR measures: expected positive exposure (EPE), credit value adjustment (CVA), and effective expected positive exposure (EEPE). Our numerical examples illustrate that our proposed efficient Monte Carlo estimators outperform the existing crude estimators of these CCR measures substantially in terms of mean square error (MSE). We also demonstrate that the two widely used sampling methods, the so-called Path Dependent Simulation (PDS) and Direct Jump to Simulation date (DJS), are not equivalent in that they lead to Monte Carlo CCR estimators which are drastically different in terms of their MSE. Full Text



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2014-113: Where Are All the New Banks? The Role of Regulatory Burden in New Charter Creation

Otmane El Rhazi, Robert M. Adams and Jacob P. Gramlich. The number of new bank charters in the United States has declined dramatically in recent years. From 1990 to 2008, over 2,000 new banks were formed, more than 100 per year. From 2009 to 2013 only 7 new banks were formed, fewer than 2 per year. Many industry observers have suggested that the decline is primarily due to regulatory burden, including new FDIC regulations and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. But other influences could have played a role, in particular, the current weak economy. Low interest rates and depressed demand for banking services - both of which depress profit for banks, and particularly new banks - may also have discouraged entry. This paper assesses the causes of the decline in new charter creation. We model firms' new charter decisions at the county level with an ordered probit using U.S. data from 1976 to 2013. Our results suggest that even without any regulatory changes following the fina ncial crisis, the weak economy and low interest rate environment would have caused 75-80% of the current decline in new charters. Full Text



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2014-112: Modeling Money Market Spreads: What Do We Learn about Refinancing Risk?

Otmane El Rhazi, Vincent Brousseau, Kleopatra Nikolaou, and Huw Pill. We quantify the effect of refinancing risk on euro area money market spreads, a major factor driving spreads during the financing crisis. With the advent of the crisis, market participants' perception of their ability to refinance over a given period of time changed radically. As a result, borrowers preferred to obtain funding for longer tenors and lenders were willing to provide funding for shorter tenors. This discrepancy resulted in a need to refinance more frequently in order to borrow over a given horizon, thus increasing refinancing risk. We measure refinancing risk by quantifying the sensitivity of the spread to the refinancing frequency. In order to do so we introduce a model to price EURIBOR-based money market spreads vis-à-vis the overnight index swap. We adopt a methodology akin to a factor model in which the parameters determining the spreads are the intensity of the crisis, i ts expected half-life, and the sensitivity of spreads to the refinancing frequency. Results suggest that refinancing risk affects the spread significantly across time, albeit in a largely varying manner. Central bank interventions have reduced the spreads as well as the effect of refinancing risk on them. Full Text



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2014-111: The Impact of the Small Business Lending Fund on Community Bank Lending to Small Businesses

Otmane El Rhazi, Dean Amel and Traci Mach. Following the financial crisis, total outstanding loans to businesses by commercial banks dropped off substantially. Large loans outstanding began to rebound by the third quarter of 2010 and essentially returned to their previous growth trajectory while small loans outstanding continued to decline. Furthermore, much of the drop in small business loans outstanding was evident at community banks. To address this perceived lack of supply of credit to small businesses, the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF) was created as part of the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act. The fund was intended to provide community banks with low-cost funding that they could then lend to their small business customers. As of December 31, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury reports that SBLF participants had increased their small business lending by $12.5 billion over their baseline numbers. The current paper uses Call Report data from community banks an d thrift institutions to look at the impact of receiving funds from SBLF on their small business lending. The analysis controls for economic and demographic conditions, market structure and competition. Simple regression estimates indicate that participants in the SBLF program increased their small business lending by about 10 percent more than their non-participating counterparts, in line with numbers reported by Treasury. However, estimates that control for the ongoing growth path in small business lending indicate no statistically significant impact of SBLF participation on small business lending. Full Text



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2014-110: Central banks as lender of last resort: experiences during the 2007-2010 crisis and lessons for the future

Otmane El Rhazi, Dietrich Domanski, Richhild Moessner, and William Nelson. During the 2007-2010 financial crisis, central banks accumulated a vast amount of experience in acting as lender of last resort. This paper reviews the various ways that central banks provided emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) during the crisis, and discusses issues for the design of ELA arising from that experience. In a number of ways, the emergency liquidity assistance since 2007 has largely adhered to Bagehot's dictums of lending freely against good collateral to solvent institutions at a penalty rate. But there were many exceptions to these rules. Those exceptions illuminate the situations where the lender of last resort role of central banks is most difficult. They also highlight key challenges in designing lender of last resort policies going forward. Full Text



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Friday, 19 December 2014

2014-109: Assessing the Change in Labor Market Conditions

Otmane El Rhazi, Hess T. Chung, Bruce Fallick, Christopher J. Nekarda, and David D. Ratner. This paper describes a dynamic factor model of 19 U.S. labor market indicators, covering the broad categories of unemployment and underemployment, employment, workweeks, wages, vacancies, hiring, layoffs, quits, and surveys of consumers' and businesses' perceptions. The resulting labor market conditions index (LMCI) is a useful tool for gauging the change in labor market conditions. In addition, the model provides a way to organize discussions of the signal value of different labor market indicators in situations when they might be sending diverse signals. The model takes the greatest signal from private payroll employment and the unemployment rate. Other influential indicators include the insured unemployment rate, consumers' perceptions of job availability, and help-wanted advertising. Through the lens of the LMCI, labor market conditions have improved at a moderate p ace over the past several years, albeit with some notable variation along the way. In addition, from the perspective of the model, the unemployment rate declined a bit faster over the past two years than was consistent with the other indicators. Full Text



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2014-108: In Search of a Risk-free Asset

Otmane El Rhazi, Vladimir Yankov. To attract retail time deposits, over 7,000 FDIC insured U.S. commercial banks publicly post their yield offers. I document an economically sizable and highly pro-cyclical cross-sectional dispersion in these yield offers during the period 1997 - 2011. Banks adjusted their yields rigidly and asymmetrically with median duration of 7 weeks in response to increasing or constant Fed Funds rate target regimes and 3 weeks during regimes of decreasing Fed Fund rate target. I investigate to what extent information (search) costs on the part of the investors in this market can explain the observed pricing behavior. I build and estimate an asset pricing model with heterogeneous search cost investors. A large fraction of high information cost uninformed investors and the exit of low information cost informed investors rationalizes the observed price dispersion. I further qualitatively match the asymmetric yield rigidity within the framework of costly consumer search without the need to impose menu costs or other restrictions on the banks' repricing behavior. Full Text



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2014-107: Fiscal Multipliers at the Zero Lower Bound: The Role of Policy Inertia

Otmane El Rhazi, Timothy S. Hills and Taisuke Nakata. The presence of the lagged shadow policy rate in the interest rate feedback rule reduces the government spending multiplier nontrivially when the policy rate is constrained at the zero lower bound (ZLB). In the economy with policy inertia, increased inflation and output due to higher government spending during a recession speed up the return of the policy rate to the steady state after the recession ends. This in turn dampens the expansionary effects of the government spending during the recession via expectations. In our baseline calibration, the output multiplier at the ZLB is 2.5 when the weight on the lagged shadow rate is zero, and 1.1 when the weight is 0.9. Full Text



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2014-106: Are Concerns About Leveraged ETFs Overblown?

Otmane El Rhazi, Ivan T. Ivanov and Stephen L. Lenkey. Leveraged and inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have been heavily criticized for exacerbating volatility in financial markets because it is thought that they mechanically rebalance their portfolios in the same direction as contemporaneous returns. We argue that these criticisms are likely exaggerated because they ignore the effects of capital flows on ETF rebalancing demand. Empirically, we find that capital flows substantially reduce the need for ETFs to rebalance when returns are large in magnitude and, therefore, mitigate the potential for these products to amplify volatility. We also show theoretically that flows can completely eliminate ETF rebalancing in the limit. Full Text



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2014-105: Conservatism and Liquidity Traps

Otmane El Rhazi, Taisuke Nakata and Sebastian Schmidt. Appointing Rogoff's (1985) conservative central banker improves welfare if the economy is subject to large contractionary shocks and the policy rate occasionally falls to the zero lower bound (ZLB). In an economy with occasionally binding ZLB constraints, the anticipation of future ZLB episodes creates a trade-off between inflation and output stabilization. As a consequence, inflation systematically falls below target even when the policy rate is above zero. A conservative central banker mitigates this deflationary bias away from the ZLB, improving allocations both at and away from the ZLB through expectations. Full Text



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2014-104: Bitcoin: Technical Background and Data Analysis

Otmane El Rhazi, Anton Badev and Matthew Chen. This paper provides the necessary technical background to understand basic Bitcoin operations and documents a set of empirical regularities related to Bitcoin usage. We present the micro-structure of the Bitcoin transaction process and highlight the use of cryptography for the purposes of transaction security and distributed maintenance of a ledger. Using publicly available transaction-level data, we examine patterns of general usage together with usage by Satoshi Dice, the largest online gambling service using Bitcoin as the method of payment. Our analysis suggests that less than 50 percent of all bitcoins in circulation are used in transactions. About half of these transactions involve less than U.S.$100 equivalent, and for the period for which we have data for Satoshi Dice, most of these small-value transactions were related to the online gambling service. Relatively less frequent large value transactions drive the average transaction value to levels above U.S.$40,000 equivalent value, and are not likely to involve payments for goods and services. Bitcoin exchange rates exhibit somewhat complicated dynamics. In the past 24 months, the USD-BTC exchange rate increased more than 50-fold. The daily variance of the USD-BTC exchange rate remained remarkably stable for this same period, once the variance calculations account for the changing exchange rate level. We also document that the exchange rates between bitcoin and other major currencies are not well aligned. We interpret this as lack of depth of the exchange markets and as costly exchange rather than as unexploited arbitrage opportunities. Finally, we examine the economic incentives for the participants in the distributed implementation of the Bitcoin scheme. Full Text



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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

IFDP1126: Cyclically Adjusted Current Account Balances

Otmane El Rhazi, Jane Haltmaier. The Great Financial Crisis coincided with a sizable reduction in global external imbalances, defined as the absolute value of the sum of individual country current account surpluses and deficits relative to global GDP. Although current account balances should not respond to a downturn that is uniform across countries, one that hits countries with current account deficits harder than those with surpluses might result in a decline in the global balance. This paper quantifies the cyclical portion of the current account balance for 35 countries using estimates of the severity of the cycle in each country relative to that of its trading partners in conjunction with three estimates of the sensitivity of the current account balance to changes in the output gap. Two of the estimates are derived from equations linking trade to income and the third is derived from the relationship between changes in current account balances and changes in output gap differentials. The main result is that the bulk of the reduction in the global current account imbalance since 2006 appears to have been structural. Cyclical forces are estimated to account for between 10 and 30 percent of the decline. In the aggregate, the cyclical effect is estimated to be currently holding down the global current account balance by about 1/2 percentage point. However, the size of the cyclical effect is more substantial for some countries. Both surplus and deficit countries have contributed to the decline in the absolute value of the global current account imbalance, but the contribution of the deficit countries is about twice as large as that of the surplus countries. Changes in oil prices have had largely offsetting effects on the global current account balance, but changes in real exchange rates in recent years have contributed to the reduction. Full Text



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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

IFDP1125: How Public Information Affects Asymmetrically Informed Lenders: Evidence from a Credit Registry Reform

Otmane El Rhazi, M. Ali Choudhary and Anil K. Jain. We exploit exogenous variation in the amount of public information available to banks about a firm to empirically evaluate the importance of adverse selection in the credit market. A 2006 reform introduced by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reduced the amount of public information available to Pakistani banks about a firm's creditworthiness. Prior to 2006, the SBP published credit information not only about the firm in question but also (aggregate) credit information about the firm's group (where the group was defined as the set of all firms that shared one or more director with the firm in question). After the reform, the SBP stopped providing the aggregate group-level information. We propose a model with differentially informed banks and adverse selection, which generates predictions on how this reform is expected to affect a bank's willingness to lend. The model predicts that adverse selection leads less informed banks to reduce lending compared to more informed banks. We construct a measure for the amount of information each lender has about a firm's group using the set of firm-bank lending pairs prior to the reform. We empirically show those banks with private information about a firm lent relatively more to that firm than other, less-informed banks following the reform. Remarkably, this reduction in lending by less informed banks is true even for banks that had a pre-existing relationship with the firm, suggesting that the strength of prior relationships does not eliminate the problem of imperfect information. Full Text



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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

2014-103: Habit, Production, and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns

Otmane El Rhazi, Andrew Y. Chen. Solutions to the equity premium puzzle should inform us about the cross-section of stock returns. An external habit model with heterogeneous firms reproduces numerous stylized facts about both the equity premium and the value premium. The equity premium is large, time-varying, and linked with consumption volatility. The cross-section of expected returns is log-linear in B/M, and the slope matches the data. The explanation for the value premium lies in the interaction between the cross-section of cash flows and the time-varying risk premium. Value firms are temporarily low productivity firms, which will eventually experience high cash flows. The present value of these temporally distant cash flows is sensitive to risk premium movements. The value premium is the reward for bearing this sensitivity. Empirical evidence verifies that value firms have higher cash-flow growth. The data also show that value stock returns are more sensitive to risk premium movements, as measured by consumption volatility shocks. Full Text



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