Have big banks gotten safer? MORE

Lawrence H. Summers and Natasha Sarin and presented a paper titled, Have big banks gotten safer? at a BPEA conference at the Brookings Institution on September 22, 2016 stating, “Since the financial crisis, there have been major changes in the regulation of large financial institutions directed at reducing their risk. Measures of regulatory capital have substantially increased; leverage ratios have been reduced; and stress testing has sought to further assure safety by raising levels of capital and reducing risk taking. Standard financial theories would predict that such changes would lead to substantial declines in financial market measures of risk.”

Have big banks gotten safer? MORE

Posted by djwardell on October 5, 2016

I clearly don't agree with everything Larry Summers contributes, but he is a thoughtful writer and does have useful insights.

 

In this paper, he significantly observes (from the abstract):

"To our surprise, we find that financial market information provides little support for the view that major institutions are significantly safer than they were before the crisis and some support for the notion that risks have actually increased. This does not make a case against the regulatory approaches that have been pursued, but does caution against complacency."

That is a view that I share.

The abstract is below and a link to the complete content is here.

 


 

ABSTRACT

Since the financial crisis, there have been major changes in the regulation of large financial institutions directed at reducing their risk. Measures of regulatory capital have substantially increased; leverage ratios have been reduced; and stress testing has sought to further assure safety by raising levels of capital and reducing risk taking. Standard financial theories would predict that such changes would lead to substantial declines in financial market measures of risk. For major institutions in the United States and around the world and midsized institutions in the United States, we test this proposition using information on stock price volatility, option-based estimates of future volatility, beta, credit default swaps, earnings-price ratios, and preferred stock yields. To our surprise, we find that financial market information provides little support for the view that major institutions are significantly safer than they were before the crisis and some support for the notion that risks have actually increased. This does not make a case against the regulatory approaches that have been pursued, but does caution against complacency.

 We examine a number of possible explanations for our surprising findings. We conclude that financial markets may have underestimated risk prior to the crisis and that there may have been significant distortions in measures of regulatory capital. Yet we believe that the main reason for our findings is that regulatory measures that have increased safety have been offset by a dramatic decline in the franchise value of major financial institutions, caused at least in part by these new regulations. This decline in franchise value makes financial institutions more vulnerable to adverse shocks. We highlight that the ratio of the market value of common equity to assets on both a risk-adjusted and risk-unadjusted basis has declined significantly for most major institutions. Our findings, if validated by others, may have important implications for regulatory policy.