- Center for Financial Studies (CFS) (6)
Did fair-value accounting contribute to the financial crisis?
- The recent financial crisis has led to a major debate about fair-value accounting. Many critics have argued that fair-value accounting, often also called mark-to-market accounting, has significantly contributed to the financial crisis or, at least, exacerbated its severity. In this paper, we assess these arguments and examine the role of fair-value accounting in the financial crisis using descriptive data and empirical evidence. Based on our analysis, it is unlikely that fair-value accounting added to the severity of the current financial crisis in a major way. While there may have been downward spirals or asset-fire sales in certain markets, we find little evidence that these effects are the result of fair-value accounting. We also find little support for claims that fair-value accounting leads to excessive write-downs of banks’ assets. If anything, empirical evidence to date points in the opposite direction, that is, towards overvaluation of bank assets. JEL-Classifications: G14, G15, G30, K22, M41, M42 Key Words: Mark-to-Market Accounting, Financial Institutions, Liquidity, Financial Crisis, Banks, Financial Regulation, Procyclicality, Contagion.
Measuring financial asset return and volatility spillovers : with application to global equity markets
Francis X. Diebold
- We provide a simple and intuitive measure of interdependence of asset returns and/or volatilities. In particular, we formulate and examine precise and separate measures of return spillovers and volatility spillovers. Our framework facilitates study of both non-crisis and crisis episodes, including trends and bursts in spillovers, and both turn out to be empirically important. In particular, in an analysis of sixteen global equity markets from the early 1990s to the present, we find striking evidence of divergent behavior in the dynamics of return spillovers vs. volatility spillovers: Return spillovers display a gently increasing trend but no bursts, whereas volatility spillovers display no trend but clear bursts. JEL Classification: F30, G15, F36
The boom-bust cycle in Finland and Sweden 1984-1995 in an international perspective
- This paper compares the boom-bust cycle in Finland and Sweden 1984-1995 with the average boom-bust pattern in industrialized countries as calculated from an international sample for the period 1970-2002. Two clear conclusions emerge. First, the Finnish-Swedish experience is much more volatile than the average boom-bust pattern. This holds for virtually every time series examined. Second, the bust and the recovery in the two Nordic countries differ markedly more from the international pattern than the boom phase does. The bust is considerably deeper and the recovery comes earlier and is more rapid. We explain the highly volatile character of the Finnish and Swedish boom-bust episode by the design of economic policies in the 1980s and 1990s. The boom-bust cycle in Finland and Sweden 1984-1995 was driven by financial liberalization and a hard currency policy, causing large pro-cyclical swings in the real rate of interest transmitted via the financial sector into the real sector and then into the public finances. JEL Classification: E32, E62, E63
Jan Pieter Krahnen
- Die Vorstellung selbst-stabilisierender, zum Gleichgewicht tendierender Finanzmärkte, lange Zeit als Selbstverständlichkeit angesehen, ist durch die aktuelle Banken- und Kreditkrise in Frage gestellt. Trotz ausgefeilten Risikomanagements der Banken und einer an Basel II orientierten Aufsicht ist es in den Jahren 2007-2009 zu einem Zusammenbruch des Interbankenmarktes und weiter Teile der Anleihemärkte gekommen. Die hierdurch erzwungenen massiven Staatsinterventionen zur Bankenrettung sind ohne Beispiel in der modernen Wirtschaftsgeschichte. In diesem Essay suchen wir nach Ansatzpunkten einer Erklärung für die Instabilität der Finanzmärkte. Als zentrale Krisenursache sehen wir Schwächen der Informationsarchitektur, deren Aufgabe darin besteht, glaubwürdige Information für Investoren bereitzustellen. Drei Determinanten der Instabilität werden herausgestellt, erstens die Nutzung von Schuldtiteln verbunden mit hohen Verschuldungsgraden, zweitens die Handelbarkeit von Titeln verbunden mit erhöhter Risikoübernahme, sowie drittens die zunehmende Komplexität von Finanzprodukten und Finanznetzwerken verbunden mit einer Homogenisierung der Aktiva- und Risikostrukturen von Finanzinstituten. Alle drei Faktoren verstärken die Anfälligkeit des Finanzsystems und zugleich die Bedeutung der Informationsarchitektur. Hieraus lassen sich Anforderungen an eine sinnvolle Reform der Regulierung ableiten. Neben den Anreizproblemen, die Gegenstand einer weiteren Arbeit sind (Franke/Krahnen 2009), diskutieren wir hier vier Kernthemen: glaubwürdige Informationen, makroprudentielle Aufsicht, robuste Eigenkapitalstandards und eine notwendige Risikobegrenzung auf Derivatemärkten. JEL-Classifications: G01, G14, G18, G28, E44 Keywords: Financial Crisis, Information, Regulation, Banking, Bond Ratings, Capital Markets
Disclosure, transparency, and market discipline
- The aim of this paper is to examine what has been the role of information provision to the market throughout the crisis. We consider two main sources of information to the market, financial statements and information provided by credit rating agencies. We examine how these sources of information work and the effectiveness of their disclosure process during the crisis. Contrary to the commonly held view, fair value accounting did not have a major impact on the crisis development and severity. However, the structure and lack of accountability of credit rating agencies had a profound impact on their incentives, which may have jeopardized the accuracy of the whole rating process. We claim that the crisis experience has changed the way we think about information as well as market discipline and discuss policy implications and proposals for regulation. JEL Classification: G01, G24, G28, M41, M48 Keywords: Mark-to-Market, Fair-Value Accounting, Credit Rating Agencies, Financial Crisis, Regulation, Financial Institutions, Banks
Lifecycle impacts of the financial and economic crisis on household optimal consumption, portfolio choice, and labor supply
Olivia S. Mitchell
- The direct financial impact of the financial crisis has been to deal a heavy blow to investment-based pensions; many workers lost a substantial portion of their retirement saving. The financial sector implosion produced an economic crisis for the rest of the economy via high unemployment and reduced labor earnings, which reduced household contributions to Social Security and some private pensions. Our research asks which types of individuals were most affected by these dual financial and economic shocks, and it also explores how people may react by changing their consumption, saving and investment, work and retirement, and annuitization decisions. We do so with a realistically calibrated lifecycle framework allowing for time-varying investment opportunities and countercyclical risky labor income dynamics. We show that households near retirement will reduce both short- and long-term consumption, boost work effort, and defer retirement. Younger cohorts will initially reduce their work hours, consumption, saving, and equity exposure; later in life, they will work more, retire later, consume less, invest more in stocks, save more, and reduce their demand for private annuities. Keywords: Financial Crisis , Household Finance , Cycle Portfolio Choice , Labor Supply Classification: D1, G11, G23, G35, J14, J26, J32