American senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has repeatedly argued “the business model of Wall Street is fraud”. Critics were quick to claim this was “nonsense”, with some going so far as to call it “slander”.
Taken literally, they have a point. After all, widespread criminality across a range of business lines — just in the past decade many of the big financial firms have gotten into trouble for price fixing, bid rigging, market manipulation, money laundering, document forgery, lying to investors, sanctions-evading, and tax dodging, among other things — isn’t the same as actually having fraud as the core of the business. More generally, the financial sector contains many parts, often with competing economic and policy interests, so it doesn’t make much sense to talk about “Wall Street” as a unified entity.
Still, there is an essential truth in what Sanders said: from a certain point of view, banking is an act of fraud. Read more
We’ve been paying attention to the various ways in which oncoming regulations are likely to crunch parts of the shadow banking system.
After the Fed released its notice of proposed rulemaking for its implementation of the Liquidity Coverage Ratio last week, the Citi rates team noted that the matched-book repo market would be unaffected by the LCR but nonetheless should expect future regulations of a different kind. Read more
Money markets have a tendency to be misunderstood.
As we’ve mentioned before, this is because most people believe them to represent a market for loanable funds, in which said funds are objectified and thus absolute. Read more
And by “a few” we mean “fourteen”.
And by “fourteen” we mean “more than fourteen” because each “question” is more like “a bunch of questions” or in some cases “stuff that Gorton and Metrick wonder about but have not actually stated in the form of a question”.
Anyways, we bolded the main bits from each below, and you can find the full paper via NBER Read more
Read enough books and economics papers about the recent US financial crisis, and at some point you might notice something odd.
Most of them are about the factors that made the crisis and subsequent recession so profound and enduring — excess leverage, deregulation, lax lending standards, the rise of securitisation, blindness of the rating agencies, fraudulent bankers — but very few of them are about what actually started the crisis. Read more
The key insight of the latest Gorton-Lewellen-Metrick paper, charted:
Yale University’s Gary Gorton and Guillermo Ordoñez have a new working paper out on the role of collateral in financial crises. This may not pass for exciting news in some places but FT Alphaville is not like other places. Gorton is renowned for his work on shadow banking and wrote an excellent short primer on the recent crisis.
(Update: He’s also, as our commenters point out, the man behind some of the AIG’s risk-management models. Take that as you will, we still think there are some interesting insights in the paper.) Read more
All the US bank runs and panics of the late 19th century — 1857, 1861, 1866, 1873, 1877, 1890, 1893, 1896 and 1907 — are clearly visible in the chart below of the call money rate — the rate for borrowing collateralised against equities.
The call money market was the “shadow money” of its day — and lending terms almost always tightened when the underlying collateral was in a bear market, and usually eased remarkably quickly once it was over. Read more