The conventionalwisdom amongst financial market observers, academics, and journalists is that a steeper yield curve should be good news for bank profitability. The argument goes that because banks borrow short and lend long, a steeper yield curve would raise the wedge between rates paid on liabilities and received on assets – the so-called “net interest margin” (or NIM). In this post, we present cross-country evidence that challenges this view. Our results suggest that it is the level of long-term interest rates, rather than the slope of the yield curve, that drives banks’ NIMs.
Despite the fact that the financial crisis erupted nearly a decade ago, its legacy is still being felt today. Disappointingly weak growth and low interest rates are arguably part of that legacy (though other developments also matter), and policy makers are increasingly worried that these are no longer temporary phenomena but instead have become permanent features. This blog assesses what a prolonged period of weak growth and low interest rates (sometimes also referred to by “secular stagnation” or “low for long”) might mean for the viability of defined-benefit (DB) occupational pension schemes in the UK and what financial stability risks might arise as a result of a changing business environment.