The seven deadly paradoxes of cryptocurrency

John Lewis

Will people in 2030 buy goods, get mortgages or hold their pension pots in bitcoin, ethereum or ripple rather than central bank issued currencies? I doubt it.  Existing private cryptocurrencies do not seriously threaten traditional monies because they are afflicted by multiple internal contradictions. They are hard to scale, are expensive to store, cumbersome to maintain, tricky for holders to liquidate, almost worthless in theory, and boxed in by their anonymity. And if newer cryptocurrencies ever emerge to solve these problems, that’s additional downside news for the value of existing ones.

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Who supplies liquidity in CHAPS?

Evangelos Benos and Christina Fritz

Every day UK banks and corporates (“participants”) make sizeable payments to each other through CHAPS, the country’s high-value payment system. However, these payments are liquidity-intensive: every payment must be pre-funded, i.e. the payer must have in place the full amount to be paid. This can be costly, so each participant would prefer to first receive some money from another one and then make its own payments by recycling the received amount. However, this still requires that some participants supply intra-day liquidity to the system by making the first payments. But who are these participants? This post shows that it is typically the smaller ones and also those perceived by markets to be riskier that get the ball rolling…

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Trimming the Hedge: How can CCPs efficiently manage a default?

Fernando Cerezetti, Emmanouil Karimalis, Ujwal Shreyas and Anannit Sumawong

When a trade is executed and cleared though a central counterparty (CCP), the CCP legally becomes a buyer for every seller and a seller for every buyer. When a CCP member defaults, the need to establish a matched book for cleared positions means the defaulter’s portfolio needs to be closed out. The CCP then faces a central question: what hedges should be executed before the portfolio is liquidated so as to minimize the costs of closeout?  In a recent paper, we investigate how distinct hedging strategies may expose a CCP to different sets of risks and costs during the closeout period. Our analysis suggests that CCPs should carefully take into account these strategies when designing their default management processes.

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Bitesize: Flourishing FinTech

Aidan Saggers and Chiranjit Chakraborty

Investment in the Financial Technology (FinTech) industry has increased rapidly post crisis and globalisation is apparent with many investors funding companies far from their own physical locations.  From Crunchbase data we gathered all the venture capital investments in FinTech start-up firms from 2010 to 2014 and created network diagrams for each year.
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Reducing counterparty credit risk in uncleared markets – but what are the costs?

Darren Massey

When you rent a house, the landlord – your counterparty – will take a security deposit as prepayment to cover potential costs such as unpaid rent or bills. New regulations introduced in major jurisdictions will require major participants in uncleared over-the-counter derivatives (OTCDs) markets to uniformly exchange initial margin – a more complicated version of a security deposit. Much like a rental deposit, OTCD parties must agree the deposit amount, who should hold the funds, and crucially, when a claim can be made. And just like the rental deposit, the protection provided brings new challenges and risks. This blog outlines some of these risks in the OTCD market, and as the framework is implemented, suggests that firms and regulators should consider these risks.

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Beyond blockchain: what are the technology requirements for a Central Bank Digital Currency?

Simon Scorer

What type of technology would you use if you wanted to create a central bank digital currency (CBDC) i.e. a national currency denominated, electronic, liability of the central bank? It is often assumed that blockchain, or distributed ledger technology (DLT), would be required; but although this could have some benefits (as well as challenges), it may not be necessary. It could be sensible to approach this issue the same way you would any IT systems development problem – starting with an analysis of requirements, before thinking about the solution that best meets these.

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Central Bank Digital Currency: DLT, or not DLT? That is the question

Simon Scorer

The topics of central bank digital currency (CBDC) and distributed ledger technology (DLT) are often implicitly linked. The genesis of recent interest in CBDC was the emergence of private digital currencies, like Bitcoin, which often leads to certain assumptions about the way a CBDC might be implemented – i.e. that it would also need to use a form of blockchain or DLT. But would a CBDC really need to use DLT? In this post I explain that it may not be necessary to use DLT for a CBDC, but I also consider some of the reasons why it could still be desirable.

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Big Data jigsaws for Central Banks – the impact of the Swiss franc de-pegging

Olga Cielinska, Andreas Joseph, Ujwal Shreyas, John Tanner and Michalis Vasios

The Bank of England has now access to transaction-level data in over-the-counter derivatives (OTCD) markets which have been identified to lie at the centre of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) 2007-2009. With tens of millions of daily transactions, these data catapult central banks and regulators into the realm of big data.  In our recent Financial Stability Paper, we investigate the impact of the de-pegging in the euro-Swiss franc (EURCHF) market by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in the morning of 15 January 2015. We reconstruct detailed trading and exposure networks between counterparties and show how these can be used to understand unprecedented intraday price movements, changing liquidity conditions and increased levels of market fragmentation over a longer period.

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Of Goosebumps and CCP default funds

Fernando V. Cerezetti and Luis Antonio Barron G. Vicente 

A vestigial structure is an anatomical feature that no longer seems to have a purpose in the current form of an organism. Goosebumps, for instance, are considered to be a vestigial protection reflex in humans. Default funds, a pool of financial resources formed of clearing member (CM) contributions that can be tapped in a default event, are a ubiquitous part of central counterparty (CCP) safeguard structures. Their history is intertwined with the history of clearinghouses, dating back to a time when the financial sector resembled a Gentlemen’s Club. Here we would like to address the following – perhaps impertinent – question: are current mutualisation processes in CCPs a historical vestige, like goosebumps, or do they still hold an important risk reducing role?

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Macroprudential policy beyond banking

Jon Frost and Julia Giese.

A seismic shift is occurring in the European financial system. Since 2008, the aggregate size of bank balance sheets in the EU is essentially flat, while market-based financing has nearly doubled. This shift presents challenges for macroprudential policy, which has a mandate for the stability of the financial system as a whole, but is still focused mostly on banks. As such, macroprudential policymakers are focusing increasing attention on potential systemic risks beyond the banking sector. Drawing from a European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) strategy paper which we helped write along with five others, we take a step back and set out a policy strategy to address risks to financial stability wherever they arise in the financial system.

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