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winter 2012/2013 Central N e w s a n d V i e w s f o r E i g h t h D i s t r i ct B a n k e r s Featured in this issue: Third-Quarter 2012 Banking Performance | The Big Banks: Too Complex To Manage? Trends in OREO: Community Banks Still Have a Long Way To Go By Daigo Gubo and Gary Corner O REO (other real estate owned) at community banks increased sharply during the 2007-2009 recession because of high loan default levels—the result of a deterioration in economic conditions and what appears to be a relaxation of underwriting standards before the financial crisis.1 Increases in OREO on bank balance sheets, however, continued well beyond the official end of the recession, peaking between 2010 and 2011. Consistent with a legacy concentration of real estate loans, community banks have experienced the highest ratios of OREO-to-assets on their books. Today many banks are still working on reducing their elevated levels of OREO. Liquidating properties, however, is proving to be a significant challenge to community bankers given the current soft real estate market conditions. As illustrated in Figure 1 below, community banks nationally and across the District experienced a peak in their OREO holdings in the second quarter of 2010. OREO holdings then appeared to plateau until the middle of 2011. Since the third quarter of 2011, OREO levels have declined. Despite these recent declines in OREO, the current volume of these properties is much higher than what it was before the start of the financial crisis. As of the third quarter of 2012, community continued on Page 6 figure 1 Community Bank* OREO/Total Assets Trends 1.2 Eighth District 1.0 U.S. Percent 0.8 0.6 0.4 Source: Call Reports *Community banks are those with assets of less than $10 billion. 0.2 0.0 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q T h e F e d e r a l R e s e r v e B a n k o f St . L o u i s : C e n t r a l t o A m e r i c a ’ s Ec o n o m y ® | stlouisfed.org Central view Vol. 22 | No. 4 www.stlouisfed.org/cb The Financial Crisis and Household Balance Sheets: Editor A New Research Effort at the St. Louis Fed News and Views for Eighth District Bankers Scott Kelly 314-444-8593 email@example.com Central Banker is published quarterly by the Public Affairs department of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Views expressed are not necessarily official opinions of the Federal Reserve System or the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Subscribe for free at www.stlouisfed.org/cb to receive the online or printed Central Banker. To subscribe by mail, send your name, address, city, state and ZIP code to: Central Banker, P.O. Box 442, St. Louis, MO 63166-0442. To receive other St. Louis Fed online or print publications, visit www.stlouisfed.org/subscribe Follow the Fed on Facebook, Twitter and more at www.stlouisfed.org/followthefed The Eighth Federal Reserve District includes all of Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, western Kentucky and Tennessee, and northern Mississippi. The Eighth District offices are in Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis and St. Louis. Selected St. Louis Fed Sites Dodd-Frank Regulatory Reform Rules www.stlouisfed.org/rrr FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data) www.research.stlouisfed.org/fred2 Community Development’s Household Financial Stability Initiative www.stlouisfed.org/HFS By James Bullard T he Great Recession set in motion numerous adverse repercussions, with damage to household balance sheets being especially pronounced. As reported by the St. Louis Fed’s Bill Emmons and Bryan Noeth in a recent study, household wealth declined nearly $17 trillion in inflation-adjusted terms, or 26 percent, from mid-2007 to early 2009, with only about two-fifths of that James Bullard is loss recovered by early 2012. Emmons president and CEO of and Noeth found that wealth losses hit the Federal Reserve older, wealthier Americans (who had Bank of St. Louis. the most to lose) the hardest in terms of absolute dollars but affected younger, less educated and minority households the most in terms of percentage.1 Not surprisingly, the adjustments required by the damage to household balance sheets are ongoing and are likely to take years to complete. In fact, this is the first U.S. recession in which household “deleveraging”—the slow, painful process of families paying down their debts and rebuilding their savings—has played a key role. Steep declines in housing prices, along with historically high levels of household debt before the crash, made this recession particularly severe. The International Monetary Fund recently reported that “housing busts preceded by larger run-ups in gross household debt are associated with significantly larger contractions in economic activity.”2 The unprecedented debt overhang leaves the Federal Reserve with a seemingly paradoxical policy, at least with respect to many households: Monetary policy has kept interest rates low to encourage borrowing in the context of an economy with too much borrowing. As Fed policymakers continue to work through this paradox, a clear challenge remains to define mechanisms whereby Americans, especially low- and moderate-income Americans, can rebuild their balance sheets, which will help both struggling families and the stagnant economy move forward. Too many Americans were unbanked or underbanked, too many did not save enough, too many ran up their debts or accumulated risky debt, and too many did not diversify their assets beyond housing. How can we turn each of these balance sheet failures around? How can we help families consider their entire balance sheet? To help meet these challenges, the St. Louis Fed has begun the Household Financial Stability research initiative, which focuses on three key questions: • What is the state of household balance sheets in this country—what can we say, quantitatively, about the health of household balance sheets in aggregate but especially by age, race, education level, income and other demographic factors? 2 | Central Banker www.stlouisfed.org Q u a r t e r ly R e p o r t Third-Quarter 2012 Banking Performance1 2011: 3Q 2012: 2Q 2012: 3Q Return on Average Assets 2 All U.S. Banks All Eighth District States Arkansas Banks Illinois Banks Indiana Banks Kentucky Banks Mississippi Banks Missouri Banks Tennessee Banks 0.71% 1.05% 1.00% 0.63 0.91 0.89 1.11 0.44 0.89 0.82 0.72 0.69 0.12 1.07 0.73 1.07 1.21 0.90 0.90 0.83 1.13 0.68 1.12 1.08 0.91 0.91 0.84 3.94% 3.89% 3.86% 3.89 3.84 3.84 4.31 3.73 3.94 4.12 3.98 3.71 3.89 4.16 3.64 3.91 4.09 4.04 3.68 3.90 4.19 3.63 3.90 4.05 4.05 3.71 3.92 0.60% 0.37% 0.35% Compiled by Daigo Gubo 0.70 0.41 0.41 SOURCE: Reports of Condition and Income for Insured Commercial Banks 0.50 0.93 0.47 0.52 0.56 0.58 0.88 0.37 0.56 0.28 0.34 0.24 0.39 0.36 0.36 0.57 0.22 0.40 0.25 0.38 0.36 NOTES: Net Interest Margin All U.S. Banks All Eighth District States Arkansas Banks Illinois Banks Indiana Banks Kentucky Banks Mississippi Banks Missouri Banks Tennessee Banks 2011: 3Q 2012: 2Q 2012: 3Q nonperforming Assets Ratio3 All U.S. Banks All Eighth District States Arkansas Banks Illinois Banks Indiana Banks Kentucky Banks Mississippi Banks Missouri Banks Tennessee Banks 4.95% 4.27% 4.11% 5.32 4.70 4.48 5.83 6.56 3.89 3.69 4.50 4.78 5.71 5.10 5.72 3.30 3.72 3.91 4.41 4.89 5.05 5.35 3.18 3.69 3.81 4.08 4.70 59.54% 66.68% 66.91% 57.37 64.28 66.36 56.44 47.82 62.74 69.41 66.86 72.05 58.41 68.89 53.00 70.38 71.79 77.89 77.09 67.36 69.11 55.50 69.18 71.71 78.17 83.49 68.64 Loan Loss Coverage Ratio 4 All U.S. Banks All Eighth District States Arkansas Banks Illinois Banks Indiana Banks Kentucky Banks Mississippi Banks Missouri Banks Tennessee Banks Loan Loss Provision Ratio All U.S. Banks All Eighth District States Arkansas Banks Illinois Banks Indiana Banks Kentucky Banks Mississippi Banks Missouri Banks Tennessee Banks • Why does it matter—what are the economic and social outcomes, at both the household and macro levels, associated with varying levels of savings, assets and net worth? • What can we do to improve household balance sheets—what are the implications of our research for public policy, community practice, financial institutions and households? Many in the Federal Reserve System have been studying family balance sheets for years. What we hope to offer is a broad conceptual framework, a common table where those throughout the System and beyond learn and work together. We plan to publish research offering new perspectives on balance sheets and why they matter. 1 2 3 4 Because all District banks except one have assets of less than $15 billion, banks larger than $15 billion have been excluded from the analysis. All earnings ratios are annualized and use year-to-date average assets or average earnings assets in the denominator. Nonperforming loans plus OREO are those 90 days past due or in nonaccrual status or other real estate owned. The loan loss coverage ratio is defined as the loan loss reserve (ALLL) divided by nonperforming loans. See www.stlouisfed.org/hfs for full details on the initiative’s team, In the Balance publication, research and other activities. As we continue to recover from the economic crisis, we are challenged to innovate and to think about new ways to help American families and the U.S. economy thrive. We are excited about the contribution that our new Household Financial Stability research initiative can make to this important challenge. EndnoteS 1 “Household Financial Stability: Who Suffered the Most from the Crisis?” The Regional Economist, July 2012. 2 International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook: Growth Resuming, Dangers Remain, April 2012, p. 91. Central Banker Winter 2012/2013 | 3 In-depth Will Money Market Mutual Funds Get an Extreme Makeover? By Michelle Neely T “” he regulatory response to the 200708 financial crisis is far from over, as much of the rulemaking stemming from the Dodd-Frank Act remains incomplete. Money market mutual funds (MMMFs) were subject to some modest regulatory changes in 2010, but many observers argue that the industry is in need of a more substantial overhaul. The $2.9 trillion MMMF industry is objecting, pointing out that the effects of the 2010 reform should be thoroughly examined before further changes are adopted and that radical changes would threaten the industry’s survival. Although the problems experienced by the money market industry during the financial crisis were not widely known by the public, the government felt compelled to intervene. Just one day after Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in September 2008, the Reserve Primary Fund’s share price fell below a dollar because the fund’s holdings of Lehman-issued commercial paper became worthless. Investors swamped the fund with redemption What They’re Saying about MMMFs “Additional steps to increase the resiliency of money market funds are important for the overall stability of the financial system.” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, April 2012 “Never again should policymakers be forced to choose between a financial meltdown or a taxpayer bailout of money market funds.” Former FDIC Chairperson Sheila Bair, November 2012 “Investors are telling us loud and clear that any of the SEC’s concepts—floating the funds, requiring capital buffers or imposing asset freezes—will drive them out of money market funds and essentially kill the product.” Karrie McMillan, General Counsel for the Investment Company Institute, May 2012 “Four years after the instability of MMMFs contributed to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, with the failure of the SEC to act, (the FSOC) should now move forward with the tools provided by Congress.” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, September 2012 4 | Central Banker www.stlouisfed.org requests, causing the fund to be closed and eventually liquidated. Analysts at the Boston Fed conservatively estimate that at least 20 other funds would have “broken the buck” if not for direct support from fund sponsors during the financial crisis.1 The U.S. Treasury also stepped in, setting up a guarantee program for MMMF investors to stem redemptions at other prime money funds and shore up the industry; that program expired in September 2009. SEC Attempts Revamp In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a number of regulatory changes meant to strengthen the industry by reducing risk. Portfolio quality, stress-testing, liquidity and diversification requirements were imposed, along with limits on portfolio maturity and mandates for disclosure and reporting. A recent analysis by SEC staffers of the 2010 reforms indicates that MMMFs are less likely to “break the buck” now than they were before the reforms because the SEC-mandated maximum weighted average maturity (WAM) of portfolios has fallen from 90 days to 60 days. The staffers found that the 2010 changes have made funds more resilient to portfolio losses and investor redemptions but that none of the reforms would have prevented the 2008 meltdown of the Reserve Primary Fund. Although the 2010 reforms have seemingly lessened the risk of losses to investors, many observers believe they did not go far enough to prevent runs. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, who recently left the agency, spearheaded an internal effort to impose more stringent requirements on money market mutual funds. The most controversial reform effort she championed was to allow the net asset value (NAV) of an MMMF share to float, reflecting its market value, rather than being fixed at $1, as is currently the practice. A floating NAV would put money market funds on par with other types of mutual funds. Schapiro abandoned that effort and others in August 2012 when she could not produce the three votes necessary to enact those changes. Enter the FSOC The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) took up MMMF reform following the SEC impasse. In November, the FSOC voted unanimously to put out for public comment three reform options that align with those proposed by the SEC; while the FSOC is prepared to enact reforms, the FSOC has made it clear that it would prefer that the SEC took action. The three proposals are 1) require funds’ NAVs to float; or 2) require funds to hold a capital buffer to manage losses plus place restrictions on the number of shares redeemable at one time; or 3) require funds to have capital buffers of 3 percent in addition to some other measures. The FSOC noted that the final proposal could be a mix of the three options suggested, with the goal of maximizing industry stability. The comment period for the proposal closes in mid-February. Based on comments received, the FSOC will provide a recommendation to the SEC, which then has 90 days to respond. The SEC can agree with the FSOC recommendation, propose its own or explain in writing why it won’t do either. Since the FSOC’s proposals came out in mid-November, two events have heightened the pressure on the SEC and the MMMF industry. As part of its recommended overhaul of the shadow banking system, the Financial Stability Board (FSB)—an umbrella organization of central bankers—called for the MMMF industry to eliminate its stable pricing mechanism, where feasible, to stanch runs.2 Functionally equivalent measures to a floating NAV should be adopted, according to the FSB, in cases where stable pricing is deemed necessary. The FSB’s stance adds an international regulatory voice to that of U.S. banking and financial markets regulators. More recently, the FSOC has discussed the idea of designating MMMFs or their sponsors as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs), thus posing a potential threat to U.S. financial stability.3 A SIFI designation under Section 113 of the Dodd-Frank Act would lead to tighter regulation of the money market industry, as well as direct supervision by the Federal Reserve. Individual bank regulators could also act on their own by imposing capital charges on MMMFs that are bank-sponsored. Industry Resists Remodel The money market fund industry has for the most part opposed the reform proposals suggested by the SEC, the FSOC and the FSB. The Investment Company Institute (ICI), the trade group for the mutual fund industry, has criticized all three primary regulatory changes suggested—floating NAVs, capital requirements and redemption holdbacks. The ICI maintains these changes would not necessarily make the industry safer but would put money funds at a competitive disadvantage relative to other cash management products. Some of the larger mutual fund companies have offered proposals of their own to head off what they view as more draconian changes. U.S. financial regulatory authorities are united in their desire to impose tighter regulations on money market mutual funds. If the SEC does not pass a reform package, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the FSOC will.4 Most observers believe some sort of reform effort will be approved by the end of 2013. With the money fund industry so firmly against floating share prices, the most likely outcome will be some sort of capital requirement, perhaps coupled with limits on redemptions in times of financial stress. Michelle Neely is an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Endnotes 1 “The Stability of Prime Money Market Mutual Funds: Sponsor Support from 2007 to 2011,” Steffanie Brady, Ken Anadu and Nathaniel Cooper, Working Paper RPA 12-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Aug. 13, 2012. 2 “Strengthening Oversight and Regulation of Shadow Banking,” Financial Stability Board, Nov. 18, 2012. 3 “FSOC Eyes New Option on Money Funds, Weighs Mortgages, Derivatives Transactions,” Chris Bruce, Bureau of National Affairs Banking Daily, Dec. 14, 2012. 4 “Regulators Set Mandate for Reform of MoneyMarket Mutual Funds,” Donna Borak, American Banker, Nov. 14, 2012. Central Banker Winter 2012/2013 | 5 figure 2 Eighth District Community Bank* OREO/Total Assets Trends by Loan Category Percent 1.2 Farmland 1.0 Multifamily 0.8 1-4 Family Residential 0.6 Nonfarm Nonresidential 0.4 CLD 0.2 0.0 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q figure 3 U.S. Community Bank* OREO/Total Assets Trends by Loan Category Percent 1.2 Farmland 1.0 Multifamily 0.8 1-4 Family Residential 0.6 Nonfarm Nonresidential 0.4 CLD 0.2 OREO Trends continued from Page 1 banks headquartered in the District had 1.06 percent of their assets in OREO. Nationwide, community banks had only 0.85 percent of their assets in OREO. OREO Composition Loans initially collateralized by construction and land development (CLD) properties represent the highest share of OREO properties on bank balance sheets, followed by nonfarm nonresidential properties. This is understandable given that CLD and nonfarm nonresidential properties make up most of the commercial real estate held on community bank balance sheets. Figures 2 and 3 above show OREO composition at community banks nationwide and at community banks headquartered in the District. The general composition of OREO at both groups of banks is very similar. The key difference is that District 6 | Central Banker www.stlouisfed.org 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 SOURCE: Call Reports *Community banks are 0.0 those with assets of less 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 1Q 2Q 3Q than $10 billion. institutions remain burdened by a higher ratio of OREO as a percentage of their total assets. OREO Concentrations by State As illustrated on the map on Page 7, community banks headquartered in states in the Eighth District have, on average, fairly moderate ratios of OREO to assets. Community banks in Indiana and Kentucky have ratios of less than 1 percent. The remaining five states—Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee— each have average OREO-to-assets ratios of 1 percent to 1.49 percent. On a state level, Georgia has the highest average ratio of OREO to assets on its community banks’ balance sheets. This is not surprising, as it also is the state with the largest number of bank failures. As would be expected, lower OREO ratios are correlated with lower problem asset ratios. Problem asset ratios at community banks headquartered in Indiana and Kentucky are the lowest among District states at 3.18 percent and 3.69 percent, respectively.2 Policy Statement and Risk Management on OREO With the rise in foreclosures, the cost of maintaining and disposing of OREO property can become a significant drag on a bank’s performance. Through the third quarter of 2012, community banks across the nation incurred $1.38 billion in annualized OREO expenses, which effectively trims 6 basis points off their return on average assets. District community banks fared slightly worse, losing $0.35 billion on an annualized basis on OREO, which trims 7 basis points off their return on average assets. The impact of OREO on asset quality and earnings highlights how important it is that banks appropriately market their OREO holdings to prospective investors. On April 5, 2012, the Federal Reserve issued a Policy Statement on Rental of Residential OREO Properties (SR 12-5/CA 12-3) to clarify that banking organizations are permitted to rent OREO properties as part of an orderly disposition strategy. The move was aimed at providing more flexibility in OREO marketing and improving the sales value of properties. On June 28, 2012, the Federal Reserve issued Questions and Answers for Federal Reserve-Regulated Institutions Related to the Management of OREO (SR 12-10/CA 12-9) to help address questions regarding the management of OREO by institutions regulated by the Federal Reserve. Generally speaking, the Federal Reserve permits bank holding companies to hold an OREO asset for up to five years, with an additional five-year extension available under certain circumstances. However, the policy statement emphasizes that bank management must have sound strategies and processes in place for the management and disposal of OREO properties. Long Way To Go on OREO Foreclosed properties spiked significantly during the financial crisis. As a result, many community banks now have significant holdings of foreclosed-upon construction and land development properties on their balance sheets. Since CLD loans proved to be one of the riskiest asset classes for community banks, naturally it holds that effectively disposing of such properties from OREO inventories is challenging. Despite the recent clarification from the Federal Reserve regarding the rental of OREO as part of an orderly disposition strategy, the stubbornly elevated levels of OREO on bank balance sheets suggest that community banks still have a long way to go before these levels return to where they were prior to the financial crisis. Gary Corner is a senior examiner and Daigo Gubo is a policy analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Endnotes 1 Properties that are classified as other real estate owned (OREO) are those held by banks as the result of a foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. 2 Problem asset ratios are nonperforming loans and OREO to total loans and OREO. Figure 4 Average OREO Concentrations by State 0% to 0.49% 0.50% to 0.99% 1% to 1.49% 1.50% to 1.99% 2% or more SOURCE: Call Reports > > M ORE ON L INE Supervision and Regulation Letters SR 12-5/CA 12-3 www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/srletters/ sr1205.htm SR 12-10/CA 12-9 www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/srletters/sr1210.htm Central Banker Winter 2012/2013 | 7 In-depth The Big Banks: Too Complex To Manage? T he phrase “too big to fail” reentered common use in 2008 after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put into government conservatorship on Sept. 6; the government rescued the large insurance firm AIG starting on Sept. 16; and nine major banks announced on Oct. 14 their intention to subscribe to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), in which the Treasury would purchase the banks’ preferred stock. More unflattering phrases have become associated with megabanks over the past couple of years. “Misbehaviors” connected to the big banks magnified the problems already posed by such large, complex financial organizations, which have concerned legislators and regulators for years. Have they successfully created game plans for “too-big-to-fail” firms? Are big banks needed, or do the misbehaviors indicate that such megabanks should not even exist? These and more questions were explored during the Oct. 1 Dialogue with the Fed, part of the St. Louis Fed’s ongoing evening discussion series for the general public. St. Louis Fed economist William Emmons led the Dialogue, titled “Robosigning, the London Whale and Libor Rate-Rigging: Are the Largest Banks Too Complex for Their Own Good?” Joining Emmons for the Q&A that followed were Mary Karr, senior vice president and general counsel of the St. Louis Fed; Steven Manzari, senior vice president of the New York Fed’s Figure 1 Which Forms of Governance Appear To Be Effective for Complex Banks? Corporate Governance Mechanisms Internal governance mechanisms In the best corporations Corporate culture Board oversight Managerial self-interest External governance mechanisms Product-market discipline Shareholder discipline Depositor/bondholder/ counterparty discipline Supervision and regulation Overall effectiveness of governance 8 | Central Banker www.stlouisfed.org Among U.S. megabanks Complex Financial Institutions unit; and Julie Stackhouse, senior vice president of Banking Supervision and Regulation at the St. Louis Fed. See the videos and Emmons’ presentation slides at www.stlouisfed.org/dialogue. Why Were Big Banks Rescued During the Crisis? The financial crisis reinvigorated the active debate on the “social good” of megabanks—whether they alone can do things smaller financial organizations can’t and whether they truly are more effective and efficient. (See “Economies of Scale and Scope” on Page 10 for some details.) The primary point of contention, however, is systemic risk. Very large and complex banks are considered to have systemic risk because the failure of a megabank would hurt not just the company itself, its creditors and its employees but potentially the entire financial industry and the economy. In other words, they are “too big to fail” without creating dire consequences for the economy. “Sometimes institutions need to fail. That is essentially what capitalism is about: that when a firm is no longer viable it should be able to leave the market (e.g., fail),” Emmons said. “But we were caught flat-footed in 2008 when the financial system almost collapsed and we had no safe, effective way to wind down failing megabanks.” Consequently, the federal government propped up many large and complex financial institutions—including AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—to avoid the damage of chaotic collapses. The lack of a structure to deal with a megabank failure has troubled many policymakers and lawmakers who, as discussed later, are attempting to craft such a mechanism. Misbehaviors: A Failure of Discipline? The revelations of recent controversies such as robo-signing, the London Whale and Libor rate-rigging— explored in “Big Bank Misbehaviors” in the online version of this article at www.stlouisfed.org/cb—as well as other problems not mentioned here indicate that something critical was lacking in the discipline of large, complex banks. “Discipline” is a combination of an institution’s internal and external governance. Internal governance includes corporate culture, oversight by the bank’s board and managerial self-interest, while external governance comes via supervision and regulation, as well as discipline by product markets, shareholders, depositors, bondholders and counterparties. Was the internal discipline effective? Not really, Emmons explained: “Some of those misbehaviors point in this direction, that the internal corporate cultures at the largest banks are not an effective mechanism for keeping the banks on the straight and narrow.” As indicated in Figure 1 on Page 8, internal discipline generally appears to work well in the best corporations but not as well among the U.S. megabanks, while external governance generally seems to have worked better for megabanks, Emmons said. “The basic message is that there are some real weaknesses on the internal side, and to the extent that we can be effective as supervisors and regulators, we can probably provide fairly effective external sources of discipline,” he said. “I think it’s also true that board oversight is often lacking,” Emmons said. It’s a perennial issue at small banks and a bigger issue for midsized banks but seems especially challenging for megabanks, as their board members are nonexperts recruited from other economic sectors yet are expected to provide effective oversight of very large and complex organizations. “It’s true that the megabanks operate in very competitive product and labor markets, which pushes them to be more efficient. But the other internal governance weaknesses noted above and their overwhelming complexity appear to make them ‘too big to manage effectively,’” he said. Both Emmons and Manzari addressed shareholders in response to a question from the Dialogue audience. They noted that small shareholders are exerting some discipline through selling their stock but that there are restrictions on what large shareholders can do and that the type of governing influence that shareholders can have on firms has yet to play out in this changing regulatory environment. “We were caught flat-footed in 2008 when the financial system almost collapsed and we had no safe, effective way to wind down failing megabanks.” Economist William Emmons Dealing with Large, Complex Banks But why didn’t federal regulators catch the misbehaviors and other issues before they became major problems? Complexity. For example, Manzari, responding to a Dialogue audience question, said that supervising a handful of megabanks is definitely more complicated than supervising hundreds or thousands of smaller institutions. • Numerous regulators for one megabank – “Every jurisdiction has some sort of prudential supervisory agencies. A firm that does business in the United States, the U.K., Europe and Asia will have a range of different entities involved in the supervision of that firm. That puts a big premium on communication and collaboration of those different agencies.” • No uniform set of rules across agencies – A nationally chartered bank in the U.S. faces a uniform set of rules, and you don’t have stateto-state differences. However, there is no globally unified regulatory framework for all international firms. “There is an effort to harmonize capital standards (and) liquidity standards, but still you get different rules in different regimes,” Manzari said. Illustrating Emmons’ prior exposition on megabank discipline, Manzari added that “The very complexity of megabanks often creates relationships inside the firm that become apparent only after the problem manifests itself.” Addressing supervision of smaller banks, Stackhouse noted that while the supervisory process is easier, there is also a very clear resolution mechanism. Since the financial crisis, more than 400 small banking organizations have continued on Page 10 Central Banker Winter 2012/2013 | 9 Big Banks continued from Page 9 failed. “A recent failure in St. Louis hit the papers for exactly one day, and I think it’s pretty much forgotten about because that’s how well (the resolution process) worked,” she said. “We’re not there yet with large institutions.” How To (Maybe) End “Too Big To Fail” So, how will we deal with the megabanks? Emmons outlined two basic approaches: radical and incremental. The radical approach involves structural changes imposed on the banks themselves or the creation of a different legal definition of what a bank is and what it can do. Radical proposals include: • Reduce their complexity and size – Revive the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act (partially repealed by the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) prohibiting combining commercial banking with investment banking or insurance underwriting. Also, reduce their size by placing limits on banks’ assets or deposits. However, Emmons said this proposal likely wouldn’t succeed because combining commercial and Economies of Scale and Scope To help explain why the misbehaviors matter and how they illuminate “too big to fail,” Emmons explored why certain banks became global giants. Given that all banks perform payments and credit, big banks argue that they need to be large and complex because they can better take advantage of economies of scale and scope: • Economies of scale – The average cost per unit of doing one thing declines as the scale of operation increases, such as diversifying default risk in the loan portfolio or paying only the net amount owed on payments clearing and settlement. • Economies of scope – The average costs per unit of doing different things decline as a result of doing them together, such as one-stop financial shopping, banking and insurance; commercial and investment banking; or market-making and trading on a bank’s own accounts. But does a bank need to be large and complex to succeed? Not necessarily, according to what ongoing St. Louis Fed research suggests. Emmons explained that most scale economies appear to be captured by banks that have between $30 billion and $50 billion in assets, banks that are much smaller than those shown in the first two columns of Figure 2 above. Emmons said the research suggests that big banks’ scope efficiencies may be good for the firms themselves, but not necessarily for the rest of society. Granting that big banks dispute such research as flawed 10 | Central Banker www.stlouisfed.org Figure 2 Size and Complexity of the Seven Largest U.S. Financial Holding Companies As of 2011: Q4 JPMorgan Chase & Co. Bank of America Corp. Citigroup Inc. Wells Fargo & Co. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Metlife Inc. Morgan Stanley All 4,660 bank holding companies Consolidated Total Assets (in billions) $2,266 2,137 1,874 1,314 924 800 750 $14,359 Percent of Total 15.8% 14.9 13.1 9.2 6.4 5.6 5.2 100% Number of Subsidiaries 3,391 2,019 1,645 1,366 3,115 163 2,884 19,603 Percent of Total 17.3% 10.3 8.4 7.0 15.9 0.8 14.7 100% SOURCE: “A Structural View of U.S. Bank Holding Companies,” D. Avraham, P. Selvaggi and J. Vickery, New York Fed Economic Policy Review, July 2012. because it doesn’t have enough data from megabanks, Emmons said that the megabanks’ claim that they “passed a market test” during and after the crisis is “simply not true.” Returns to big-bank shareholders have been poor over time, as bank stocks experienced a 90 percent decline from the beginning of financial crisis, much more than the overall stock market. “There has been some recovery, but they are trailing the market,” Emmons said. “So, whether using 2000 or 2007 as the starting point, bank stocks have vastly underperformed the rest of the market—even with government support.” Emmons said, “Most, if not all, of the megabanks would have failed without government support during the financial crisis. In other words, in a truly free market, most or all of those banks would have exited.” And large companies are at best lukewarm supporters of big banks, he said. For a fuller discussion, see the presentation slides and videos as well as “Too Big To Fail: The Pros and Cons of Breaking Up Big Banks” at www.stlouisfed.org/publications/re/articles/?id=2283 in the October 2012 The Regional Economist. investment banking was not the main source of problems; in fact, many of the “too-big-to-fail” institutions that caused problems during the crisis would have been allowed to operate under Glass-Steagall. • Create “narrow banks” – Separate payments functions from all other financial activities. Such a bank would take deposits and make payments but not make loans except those that have very little default risk. Emmons said this proposal wouldn’t be successful either because such banks are not likely to be viable. Narrow banks likely would seek to make riskier loans to improve their profitability, while non-narrow banks would seek to enter the payments business in one way or another. “In fact, we have chosen not to pursue radical approaches to solving the ‘too-big-to-fail’ problem,” he said. “Instead, we’re implementing incremental—albeit significant—reforms of the existing legal, regulatory and governance frameworks in which banks operate.” Meanwhile, bankers, regulators and legislators won’t know whether the regulatory reform efforts will actually work until they are actually used. Those efforts, which have sparked a lot of profound debate throughout the financial industry, include: • The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act – The law includes living wills for orderly dissolution, capital requirements, stress tests, risk-based assessments on deposit insurance, FDIC orderly liquidation authority, the Volcker Rule and investor protections. “These are all pushing banks to be more effective in internal discipline,” Emmons said. (See www.stlouisfed.org/regreformrules, our Dodd-Frank Act site.) • Basel III Accord – The third round of the Basel Accords is looking to improve the quality of bank capital and make other changes related to capital so that big banks demonstrate that they “have more skin in the game,” Emmons said. Emmons also offered another proposal: Make a strictly enforced “death penalty” regime, a law mandating that any bank requiring government assistance would be nationalized, with a plan to sell it back to new shareholders at some point in the future. “The crux of the matter would be carrying through this pledge to re-privatize the institution,” he said. “It should reduce the incentives to take risk because the ‘death penalty’ is such a severe penalty that it would act as a deterrent.” Emmons noted that TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) was a half-step in this direction, in which the federal government took noncontrolling equity positions in megabanks—preferred instead of common equity—and didn’t wipe out shareholders or management. “It’s not so radical of a proposal because we did impose a ‘death penalty’ on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Their shareholders and management were wiped out. General Motors and Chrysler were forced into bankruptcy, and AIG was effectively nationalized,” he said. “If this were to be the plan, we would need (to continue the metaphor) an undertaker standing by—an institution that would be ready to exact this discipline on the firms,” he said, pointing to other nations’ permanent “sovereign wealth funds” that can take equity positions in firms. The Jury Is Still Out While investigations and lawsuits continue, regulations are written for new laws, and the industry wrestles with proposed capital and other standards, the question remains: Will any of this solve “too big to fail,” successfully rein in systemic risk or prevent future “misbehaviors”? Simply put, we don’t know yet. “I think it’s really important to realize that these are the early days in terms of the reform efforts for the financial system, and many firms still have to navigate a pretty complex set of changes to the regulatory landscape, how the world is unfolding and how they’re going to generate profits,” Manzari said during the Q&A portion. Stackhouse noted that of the 400 or so regulations and rules required by the Dodd-Frank Act, only about one-third are actually in place. “The financial community, large banks in particular— those with over $50 billion in assets— have a lot ahead of them,” she said. “The Dodd-Frank Act right now is the mechanism on the table to deal with these very large firms. The jury is still out on how that particular rule making will take place and how effective it will be.” Central Banker Winter 2012/2013 | 11 Central Banker Online S ee the online version of the W inter 2012/2 0 1 3 C entra l B an k er at www. s t lo u i s f e d. o r g/C b for regulatory spotlights and recent S t. Louis F ed research . ISSUE 2 | 2012 Perspectives on Household Balance Sheets Unsteady Progress: Income Trends in the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances By William Emmons, assistant vice president and economist, and Bryan Noeth, policy analyst, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis T he Federal Reserve’s 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances revealed a decline in the income of many Americans between 2007 and 2010.1 Among the middle decile (10 percent) of all families, the average pre-tax family income in 2010 was $45,951, falling 5.6 percent from the 2007 level of $48,669.2 (All figures are expressed in terms of 2010 purchasing power.) Detailed comparisons of income and wealth trends over both short and long periods for a number of subgroups lead us to conclude that some types of families are doing noticeably better than others.3 For example, the average older family (headed by someone 55 or older) in the middle ten percent of such families had a pre-tax income 3.5 percent higher in 2010 than a similar family had in 2007. In stark contrast, the average younger family (headed by someone under 40) had a pre-tax income 12.6 percent lower in 2010 than in 2007. Meanwhile, a family headed by someone between the ages of 40 and 54 had pre-tax income that was about 8.3 percent lower in 2010 than such a family in 2007. HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL STABILITY —A Research Initiative This analysis of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances is but one aspect of a recently launched research initiative now under way at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Through research, publications, web-based data tools and public events, the HFS initiative aims to help rebuild the balance sheets of struggling American households. For more information, see the Household Financial Stability site at www.stlouisfed. org/hfs Ne w S t. Lo uis Fed Pub li c ati o n NE W B AN K IN G AND E C ONO M I C RESEAR C H • Mortgage Borrowing: The Boom and Bust Read short essays related to research on understanding and strengthening the balance sheets of American households. The online publication is part of the St. Louis Fed Community Development’s Household Financial Stability initiative, which includes research, web-based data tools and public events. Short- and Longer-Term Income Trends Table 1 provides information on typical pre-tax family incomes at various times for (continued on Page 2) TABLE 1 • Global European Banks and the Financial Crisis • State and Local Debt: Growing Liabilities Jeopardize Fiscal Health • Unemployment Insurance: Payments, Overpayments and Unclaimed Benefits • Latest Agricultural Finance Monitor • Latest Housing Market Conditions Report RU L ES AND RE G U L ATIONS • Appraisal Requirements among Several Newly Effective Dodd-Frank Act Rules printed on recycled paper using 10% post-consumer waste Average family income of the middle decile of families ranked by income in 2010 dollars C D E 1992-95 average 2007 2010 Percent Change 2007-2010 Percent Change 1992-95 average to 2010 $41,990 $48,669 $45,951 –5.6 9.4 A 1 All families B 2 Historically disadvantaged minority (African-American or Hispanic origin) 25,557 34,917 32,306 –7.5 26.4 3 White, Asian or other minority 46,569 54,815 52,221 –4.7 12.1 4 Young (family head under 40) 40,787 39,834 –12.6 –2.3 5 Middle-aged (between 40 and 54) 59,416 64,763 59,373 –8.3 –0.1 6 Old (55 or older) 29,613 40,686 42,090 3.5 42.1 45,583 7 No college degree 32,245 36,363 34,121 –6.2 5.8 8 College degree (two-year or four-year degree) 66,303 82,844 73,502 –11.3 10.9 83,177 97,051 99,334 2.4 19.4 66,564 88,131 74,558 –15.4 12.0 Addendum: 9 Middle-aged and college degree and white, Asian or other minority 1 0 Old and college degree and white, Asian or other minority SOURCE: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances and authors’ calculations. 1 >> Read or download In the Balance and see subscription options at: www.stlouisfed.org/ publications/itb/ CENTRAL BANKER | WINTER 2012 https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/central-banker/winter-2012/new-st-louis-fed-banking-and-economic-research New St. Louis Fed Banking and Economic Research Mortgage Borrowing: The Boom and Bust The mortgage boom and bust have had profoundly different effects on different age groups and birth-year cohorts. Younger families generally experienced the most volatility, while older families have emerged with the largest net increases in mortgage debt in percentage terms. Read why in this article by William R. Emmons and Bryan J. Noeth in the January 2013 The Regional Economist. Global European Banks and the Financial Crisis In the November/December 2012 Review, economists Bryan J. Noeth and Rajdeep Sengupta review some of the recent studies on international capital flows with a focus on the role of European global banks. They present a revision to the commonly held “global saving glut” view that East Asian economies (along with oilrich nations) were the dominant suppliers of capital that fueled the asset price boom in many parts of the world in the early 2000s. They also argue that the role of funding costs and a “liberal” regulatory regime that allowed for an unprecedented expansion of the balance sheets of European banks was no less important. Finally, they describe the aftermath of the crisis in terms of some of the challenges faced by Europe as a whole and European banks in particular. State and Local Debt: Growing Liabilities Jeopardize Fiscal Health Not only are nations (and individuals) wrestling with growing debt levels, but so are state and local governments, including those in the seven states that make up the Eighth District. To understand how burdensome the debt is to states, Lowell R. Ricketts, research associate, and Christopher J. Waller, director of Research, explore how the financial obligations of states extend beyond the bonds issued by state governments. They combined state and local government debt with unfunded pension and retiree healthbenefit obligations, and combining them with existing indebtedness to provide a more accurate comparison of fiscal health. They then measured these financial obligations as a percentage of gross state product (GSP), which shows debt totals relative to the size of the state economy. Read more in the October 2012 Regional Economist. Unemployment Insurance: Payments, Overpayments and Unclaimed Benefits Not everyone who is eligible for unemployment benefits actually collects them. Over the longer horizon, these unclaimed benefits are much larger than the overpayments that have received recent media attention. Economists David L. Fuller, B. Ravikumar and Yuzhe Zhang investigate why in this October 2012 Regional Economist article. Latest Agricultural Finance Monitor District farm income and capital spending were down significantly in the third quarter of 2012 relative to yearago levels, though there was some disparity across zones, as reported in the St. Louis Fed’s Agricultural Finance Monitor. The St. Louis Zone showed the largest drop-off from one year ago, while bankers in the Little Rock and Louisville zones also reported declines from a year earlier. By contrast, bankers in the Memphis Zone reported both higher income and capital spending relative to 2011. Household spending across the District was more mixed; bankers in the St. Louis and Little Rock zones reported lower levels of household spending compared with a year earlier, and bankers in the Louisville and Memphis zones reported higher levels. The next issue comes out in mid-February. Latest Housing Market Conditions Report House prices in five of the seven states that comprise the Federal Reserve's Eighth District rose slightly in the third quarter of 2012, according to the St. Louis Fed’s latest Housing Market Conditions report. At the same time, the percentage of seriously delinquent mortgages fell in most Eighth District states, (Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee). CENTRAL BANKER | WINTER 2012 https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/central-banker/winter-2012/appraisal-requirements-among-newly-effective-doddfrankrules Rules and Regulations: Appraisal Requirements among Newly Effective Dodd-Frank Rules Appraisal Requirements for Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans Now Set Higher-priced mortgage loans now have new appraisal requirements per a final rule issued by six federal regulators in mid-January. Creditors are now required to use a licensed or certified appraiser who prepares a written appraisal report based on a physical visit of the interior of the property. The rule also requires creditors to disclose to applicants information about the purpose of the appraisal and provide consumers with a free copy of any appraisal report. If the seller acquired the property for a lower price during the prior six months and the price difference exceeds certain thresholds, creditors will have to obtain a second appraisal at no cost to the consumer. This requirement for higher-priced home-purchase mortgage loans is intended to address fraudulent property flipping by seeking to ensure that the value of the property legitimately increased. Exemptions: The rule exempts several types of loans, such as qualified mortgages, temporary bridge loans and construction loans, loans for new manufactured homes, and loans for mobile homes, trailers and boats that are dwellings. The rule also has exemptions from the second appraisal requirement to facilitate loans in rural areas and other transactions. Implementation and future supplements: The rule implements amendments to the Truth in Lending Act made by the Dodd-Frank Act, which defines mortgage loans as higher-priced if they are secured by a consumer’s home and have interest rates above certain thresholds. In response to public comments, the six agencies (the Fed, CFPB, FDIC, FHFA, NCUA and OCC) plan to publish a supplemental proposal to request additional comment on possible exemptions for “streamlined” refinance programs and small dollar loans, as well as to seek clarification on whether the rule should apply to loans secured by existing manufactured homes and certain other property types. Stress Testing Implemented, Results Coming in March Publicly disclosed results are due in March for annual stress testing by large financial organizations, per the Dodd-Frank Act. Smaller companies will not need to disclose publicly the results of their tests, which are to begin in October 2013. The Fed started conducting supervisory stress tests for the 19 bank holding companies that participated in the 2009 Supervisory Capital Assessment Program and subsequent Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Reviews. The final rules also required these companies and their state member bank subsidiaries to conduct their own Dodd-Frank Act company-run stress tests last fall, with the results to be publicly disclosed in March 2013. In general, other companies subject to this stress testing are required to comply with the final rule beginning in the fall of 2013. State member banks, bank holding companies and savings and loan holding companies with between $10 billion and $50 billion in total assets that begin conducting their first company-run stress test in the fall of 2013 will not have to disclose publicly the results of that first stress test. Proposed and Out for Comment Rules Proposed rule regarding enhanced prudential standards and early remediation requirements for foreign banking organizations and foreign nonbank financial companies—The proposed rule requests comment on specified enhanced prudential standards for companies that the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) has determined pose a grave threat to financial stability. Additionally, certain foreign banking organizations would be required to form a U.S. intermediate holding company that would generally serve as a U.S. top-tier holding company for the U.S. subsidiaries of the company. The proposed rule would affect foreign banking organizations with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more and foreign nonbank financial companies supervised by the Board. Comments are due by March 31. Rule summary Proposed policy statement on the scenario design framework for stress testing—The Fed is seeking comments on a proposed policy statement outlining the approach to scenario design for stress testing that would be used in connection with the annual supervisory and company-run stress tests. The proposed policy statement outlines the characteristics of the stress test scenarios and explains the considerations and procedures that underlie the formulation of these scenarios. Comments are due by Feb. 15. Rule summary