Lehman Brothers: 10 years on

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 will forever be remembered as a pivotal moment in the global financial crisis. TV pictures flashed around the world of staff carrying their belongings out of their offices as their employer filed for bankruptcy. But few observers watching at the time foresaw the tumultuous events that would be unleashed in the weeks and months that followed.  And the consequences endured: for policymakers, academics and market participants alike, the world was never quite the same again.

In this special series of posts, we turn the clock back to 2008 to look at how the crisis unfolded and what those events revealed about the economic and financial system.  This week, we’ll publish four posts, each focussing on a different aspect. Today’s opening post explores how trouble in the subprime US mortgage market ended up creating a global emergency.  Subsequent posts will look at the sharp contraction in cross-border lending, the turmoil in money markets, and knock-on effects on the global economy.

The authors take a diverse range of approaches- some draw on earlier academic work, some focus on the evolution of the data, others try to piece together the mechanics of the system. As ever, we welcome your discussion of our work- either using the comments facility at the foot of each post, tagging @BoE_Research on twitter or best of all – via by writing a response on your own blog!

John Lewis, Managing Editor

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Repo Market Functioning: The Role of Capital Regulation

Antonis Kotidis and Neeltje van Horen

The leverage ratio requires banks to hold capital in proportion to the overall size of their balance sheet. As opposed to the capital ratio, risk-weights are irrelevant to its calculation. The leverage ratio therefore makes it relatively more costly for banks to engage in low margin activities. One such activity – which is crucial to the transmission of monetary policy and financial stability – is repo.  This column shows that a tightening of the leverage ratio resulting from a change in reporting requirements incentivised UK dealers to reduce their repo activity, especially affecting small banks and non-bank financial institutions. The UK gilt repo market, however, showed resilience with foreign, non-constrained dealers quickly stepping in.

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Filed under Financial Markets, Macroprudential Regulation

Global Financial Cycles and risk premiums

Felix Ward, Moritz Schularick, Òscar Jordà and Alan M Taylor

In April the Bank hosted a workshop organised jointly with the IMF and ECB, on the theme of “International Spillovers of Shocks and Macroeconomic Policies”. In this guest post, the authors of one of the papers presented look at how and why co-movement of international equity prices has increased over time.

Asset markets in advanced economies have become integrated to a degree never seen before in the history of modern finance. This is especially true for global equities starting in the 1990s. We find that this increase in synchronization is primarily driven by fluctuations in risk-appetite rather than in risk-free rates, or in dividends. Moreover, we find that U.S. monetary policy plays a major role in explaining such fluctuations. This transmission channel affects economies with both fixed and floating exchange rates, although the effects are more muted in floating rate regimes.

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Filed under Financial Markets, International Economics

Making big data work for economics

Arthur Turrell, Bradley Speigner, James Thurgood, Jyldyz Djumalieva, and David Copple

‘Big Data’ present big opportunities for understanding the economy.  They can be cheaper and more detailed than traditional data sources, and on scales undreamt of by survey designers.  But they can be challenging to use because they rarely adhere to the nice neat classifications used in surveys.  We faced just this challenge when trying to understand the relationship between the efficiency with which job vacancies are filled and output and productivity growth in the UK.  In this post, we describe how we analysed text from 15 million job adverts to glean insights into the UK labour market.

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Filed under Macroeconomics, New Methodologies

Climate change and finance: what role for central banks and financial regulators?

Emanuele Campiglio, Yannis Dafermos, Pierre Monnin, Josh Ryan Collins, Guido Schotten and Misa Tanaka

Climate change poses risks to the financial system. Yet our understanding of these risks is still limited. As we explain in a recent paper published in Nature Climate Change, central banks and financial regulators could contribute to the development of methodologies and modelling tools for assessing climate-related financial risks. If it becomes clear that these risks are substantial, central banks should consider taking them into account in their operations. Both central banks and financial regulators might also consider supporting a low-carbon transition in a more active way so as to contribute to the reduction of these risks.

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Filed under Financial Markets, Financial Stability

Bitesize: Snowed In

Will Abel

UK GDP growth slowed sharply at the beginning of this year. Over the same period, Britons suffered through unseasonably cold weather, popularly known as “The Beast from the East”. Are the two related?

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Fog in the Channel? How have equity markets reacted to Brexit news?

Srdan Tatomir, Iryna Kaminska, Marek Raczko and Gregory Thwaites

How have equity markets responded to news about Brexit? To answer this we split firms into those whose share prices are particularly sensitive to Brexit-related news, and those which are not.  The latter group provides a “control sample”, against which to assess the impact of individual pieces of news on the former. The ratio of the two groups’ prices gives a barometer of equity market sentiments around Brexit. So far, this measure points to downward pressure on valuation of companies more exposed to Brexit. The bulk of the fall occurred on the night of the referendum, with little movement afterwards, suggesting little additional “news” from subsequent developments beyond the immediate aftermath.

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Opposing change? The price impact of removing the penny

Marilena Angeli and Jack Meaning

Would removing the 1p and 2p coins from circulation cause inflation? Or deflation? Or neither? Our analysis, and the overwhelming weight of literature and experience, suggests it would have no significant impact on prices because price rounding would be applied at the total bill level, not on individual items and it would only affect cash transactions, which make up a low proportion of spending by value. Even if individual prices were rounded on all payments, analysis of UK price data suggests no economically significant impact on inflation.

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Filed under Currency, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

Gender diversity on Bank Board of Directors and performance

Ann Owen and Judit Temesvary

Earlier this year the Bank hosted a joint conference with the ECB and the Federal Reserve Board on Gender and Career Progression. In this guest post one of the speakers, Ann Owen, discusses her work with Judit Temesvary on how the composition of boards affects decision making and ultimately performance in the banking sector.

The representation of women on boards of US bank holding companies has increased (chart 1), but nevertheless remains well below the share of women in the overall employee base (chart 2).  While this also raises questions of equity, our research asks if a lack of gender diversity on bank boards has an economic impact on their performance.   We find that it does, and that this effect depends on 1) the existing level of gender diversity on the board, and 2) the level of bank capitalization.  If risk-weighted capital ratios are a proxy for the quality of bank management, our findings suggest that at well-managed banks, gender diversity has a positive impact on bank performance- but only once a threshold level of diversity is reached.

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When Harry Fired Sally: The Gender Punishment Gap

Mark Egan, Gregor Matvos and Amit Seru

Earlier this year the Bank hosted a joint conference with ECB and the Federal Reserve Board on Gender and Career Progression. In this guest post, Mark Egan, Gregor Matvos and Amit Seru summarise the paper they presented on the differential punishment of male and females in the US financial industry.

The gender pay gap – that women earn lower wages than men – is well known. Is that where the disparity in the workplace ends? No. In a new working paper, we document the existence of the “gender punishment gap”. We study the career trajectories of more than 1.2 million men and women working in the US financial advisory industry and examine how their careers evolve following misconduct. Women face more severe punishment at both the firm and industry level for similar missteps. Following an incidence of misconduct, women are 20% more likely to lose their jobs and 30% less likely to find new jobs relative to their male counterparts. The punishment gap is especially prominent in firms with few female managers.

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Filed under Financial Markets, Microprudential Regulation