Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer Discusses International Effects of Recent Policy Tightening

I appreciate your invitation to participate in this [April 19] panel discussion. In my remarks, I will discuss how U.S. monetary policy actions affect our foreign trading partners, with particular focus on how foreign economies have responded to the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) ongoing normalization of policy rates.1

Spillovers from the Fed’s Unconventional Policies

Extensive empirical research on spillovers–including by Federal Reserve and International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff members–indicates that spillovers from the actions of major central banks occur through several important channels.2 While the exchange rate is a key channel of transmission and gets a great … Read more

Federal Reserve Governor Discusses the Financial System and Future Changes

Thank you for inviting me to speak here today (April 20).1 I will begin by looking back at the global financial crisis and the great recession, which were arriving on the horizon at about this time 10 years ago. For the United States and many other countries, this would turn out to be the most painful economic crisis since the Great Depression. The fact that we had a severe recession but not another depression is a tribute to the aggressive response of those who were in a position to act at that time.2

In the event, the financial … Read more

Arnold & Porter Discusses Arbitration Battles

It’s been five years since Concepcion made “clear” that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts state laws that forbid class action waivers.  Concepcion did not protect arbitration agreements from laws of general applicability (such as unconscionability), but it did confirm that the FAA preempts state laws that seek to limit or invalidate various arbitration provisions.

In its decision on April 6 in McGill v. Citibank, the California Supreme Court fired the latest salvo in the battle over arbitration clauses.  In McGill, Citibank sought to compel arbitration of claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL), False Advertising … Read more

Elite Law Firms Cash in on Market Knowledge

The legal advisory market for major corporate transactions is dominated by a relatively small number of elite law firms.  What value do these law firms provide?  Regulatory expertise, innovative drafting, speed of execution, and reputational cachet have all been offered as likely candidates. In Market Information and the Elite Law Firm, I argue that a considerable share of the profits earned by these firms also derives from selling their information about current “market” transaction terms.

Indeed, corporate transactions such as mergers and acquisitions or financings are characterized by several salient facts that lack a complete theoretical account. First, they … Read more

Federal Reserve Governor Discusses the History and Structure of the Fed

I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak at West Virginia University. Thanks to Brian Cushing for inviting me here today.1

Gathered in this part of West Virginia, we are located in the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which stretches down from here to South Carolina and east to the Atlantic Ocean (figure 1). More than 100 years ago, the organizers of the Federal Reserve System divided the country into 12 of these Districts, each with its own Federal Reserve Bank. Together, the Board of Governors in Washington and the 12 Reserve Banks are the key elements … Read more

Cleary Gottlieb on the Trade Implications of Brexit

The UK Government triggered on March 29, 2017, Article 50 TEU.  As a result, the UK is likely to have exited the EU by March 2019.

In a speech delivered on January 17,  Prime Minister (“PM”) May explained that the UK would not seek to be part of the EU’s customs union, but would instead look to establish a “comprehensive” trade agreement with the EU.  In tandem, she noted that the UK would no longer accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

How Will a Post-Brexit Future Relationship be Achieved?

1.      The Current Situation

Read more

Auctioneers as Market Makers and Their Role in Managing Price Momentum

Whether in large auction markets involving worldwide sales of, say, automobiles or in more specialized forums like the Tsukiji, Tokyo, fish market, auctioneers provide a platform for buyers and sellers to interact.[1] They also play an important role in designing the market and have significant discretion in administering the auctions. While auctioneers are colorful figures in the popular imagination, they are largely absent from the academic literature, where auctions are typically assumed to be run by a passive entity whose incentives are aligned with the seller’s. Thus, the literature does not provide much guidance on how one may think … Read more

Proskauer Rose Discusses the Promise of Blockchain

The blockchain protocol (a form of a ‘distributed ledger system’) was originally designed as a platform to process Bitcoin transactions.  The protocol enables peer-to-peer transactions and eliminates the need for a trusted intermediary to verify and process the transactions.

The blockchain protocol as a platform is actually independent of Bitcoin, and is therefore transferable to other applications. Naturally, because blockchain was conceived of as supporting a specific digital payment system, the initial and most obvious use of the blockchain outside of Bitcoin is “fintech” – technology-based payment and financial transaction systems.  The goal of recent experimentation and development in fintech … Read more

The Law and Economics of Shadow Banking

In our recent paper, we discuss the economic case for regulating shadow banking and ask three questions. First, what is shadow banking? Second, why should it be regulated? And third, what’s an efficient way to regulate it? We focus on systemic risk, defined as the likelihood of a financial system failure so serious that it impairs the financing of production and consumption. We argue that such a risk can never be measured precisely enough to predict financial crises.

Our paper examines shadow banking on the basis of its contribution to systemic risk. We argue that shadow banking should be regulated … Read more

Covington & Burling on FDIC Vice Chair Hoenig’s Plan for Financial Holding Companies

As has been widely reported, FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig put forward in remarks to the Institute of International Bankers on Monday, March 13, a “Market-Based Proposal for Regulatory Relief and Accountability” (the “Hoenig Proposal” or the “Proposal”).  If adopted, the Hoenig Proposal would substantially change the regulation of large and complex banking organizations doing business in the United States.

The Hoenig Proposal advances ideas that the Vice Chairman has long advocated concerning a new framework for bank regulation.  In 2015 and 2016, Mr. Hoenig proposed various types of regulatory relief for what he described as traditional commercial banks … Read more

PwC Discusses How Financial Institutions Can Bolster Defenses Against Risk

Many financial institutions1 have implemented the three Lines of Defense (LoD) model to help define their risk management frameworks and bolster supervisors’ (e.g., desk heads and senior traders) abilities to monitor risk.2 However, as frameworks for managing financial risks (e.g., credit, market, and liquidity) have become more developed, regulators are increasingly focusing on oversight of non-financial risks (e.g., operational and conduct).3

Supervisors are often not only expected to design, manage, and execute a financial institution’s first LoD controls framework, but to do so while meeting (or exceeding) revenue expectations. In order for supervisors to meet the expectations of … Read more

Unicorns, Guardians, and the Concentration of U.S. Equity Markets

Developments in private and public markets are changing the role equity plays in the United States, i.e., what “stock” means as a matter not only of investment and corporate governance, but also of political economy.  For several generations, a broad middle class invested directly in bureaucratically run corporations, disciplined by securities and other laws.  The governance of firms and therefore much of the economy was answerable to this broad middle class.  Perhaps most important, citizens understood such arrangements as “the free enterprise system” or even “the American way.”  We call this a “republican” imagination of equity markets.

There has recently … Read more

Shearman & Sterling Offers a Primer on House Blueprint for Tax Reform

The election of Donald Trump in November has substantially increased the likelihood of major tax reform in the near future. While it is uncertain what shape such reform will take, there has been renewed interest in the so-called “Blueprint” for tax reform released by House Republicans on June 24, 2016.[1] The Blueprint’s stated aims are to promote economic growth for American business, incentivize companies to remain in the United States and greatly reduce the complexity of the current tax system. To promote these objectives, the Blueprint advocates the replacement of the current corporate income tax with what is referred … Read more

How Creditors Affect Resource Allocation at Firms in Technical Default

A central topic in financial economics is how the allocation of cash flow and control rights among providers of corporate finance should evolve with firm performance. Theoretically, allowing for a transfer of control to creditors when a firm is in default can alleviate agency problems resulting from the separation of ownership and control, as well as conflicts of interest between debt and equity holders (Jensen and Meckling, 1976).[1] Empirical evidence confirms that governance by creditors has profound effects on not only bankrupt firms (Gilson, 1990), but also a broad spectrum of firms that are merely in technical default.[2]Read more

Do Creditors Actively Influence Corporate Tax Planning?

In our recent paper, we provide strong empirical evidence that banks play an active role in shaping borrowers’ tax planning. Our evidence is drawn from a comprehensive analysis of the impact of debt covenant violations on corporate tax avoidance.

Covenants must be maintained while the debt is outstanding and are tripwires for trouble. A violation of a covenant can put the borrowing firm into technical default and lead to the transfer of control rights to creditors, who then step in and exert strong influence over managerial decisions.

Using a large sample of covenant violations by U.S. public firms between 1997 … Read more

Detecting Risk Through Firms’ Emails

Recent advances in financial technology (FinTech) have dramatically transformed the financial landscape with respect to the way we access, invest, and transfer financial capital. In our recent article, we explore a promising avenue for the use of natural-language processing in an effective yet non-invasive method by which to monitor the health and integrity of financial institutions and corporations in general.

Specifically, the continuous flow and abundance of corporate emails makes them a far more prevalent and timely indicator of escalating risk or malaise than the numbers in quarterly financial statements. However, difficulties lie in systematically and efficiently drawing inferences from … Read more

PwC on Basel Committee’s Views of its Fundamental Review of the Trading Book

On January 26 the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) released its first set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB). The BCBS published the FRTB in January 2016 with the intent to harmonize (i.e., reduce variability) the treatment of market risk across national jurisdictions.[1] It will generally result in higher global capital requirements.

The BCBS calls for each jurisdiction to finalize implementation of the FRTB before January 2019 and for compliance to begin by December 2019. We do not expect US regulators to adopt the standard until 2018 at the earliest … Read more

Jones Day Explores Trump’s Plan for the Future of American Infrastructure

President Donald J. Trump’s “America’s Infrastructure First” plan is one of the Trump Administration’s priorities during his first 100 days in office. Throughout the campaign, President Trump heralded his plan to build and restore highways, tunnels, airports, bridges, and water systems across America and promised a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure sector over a 10-year period. Leaders from both parties acknowledge the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure, and there have been expressions of support from both sides of the aisle for some sort of development and construction program. Aside from the overall proposed sticker price of $1 trillion, there are scant … Read more

Operating Risk and the Rights of Lenders to Control It

Operating risk is a major concern for firm management and stakeholders. Stark examples of losses due to corporate operations include BP’s $17.2 billion loss in June 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon incident (Wong and Yousuf, 2010) and Freeport-McMoRan’s $13.9 billion loss in 2008 due to plunging metal prices and difficulty with the acquisition of a rival company (James, 2009). The consequences of these and other operating losses are significant, and spill over to connected firms (Wu, 2016). Managers may be willing to make risky operating decisions if they are unaware of the risk or measure it poorly, or if their … Read more

Sullivan & Cromwell Discusses Banking Organization Capital Plans and Stress Tests

On January 30, 2017, the Federal Reserve published a final rule,[1] initially proposed on September 26, 2016,[2] that will modify the CCAR capital plan and stress testing rules applicable to bank holding companies (“BHCs”) with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets and U.S. intermediate holding companies (“IHCs”) of foreign banking organizations (collectively, “CCAR firms”).[3]  Most notably, beginning with the 2017 CCAR and DFAST cycle, the final rule will exclude the capital plans of “large and noncomplex” CCAR firms (those that are not global systemically important banks (“G-SIBs”), … Read more