Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Why are some banks blaming regulations on the spike in the repo market?

Back on December 31, 2018 (before our September 2019 repo blowup) the rate on “general collateral” overnight repurchase agreements (repo rate) went from from 2.56 per cent to 6.125 per cent. This was the highest repo rate observed since 2001 and was the single largest percentage jump since at least 1998.

Some (including JP Morgan Chief Jaime Dimon) believe that various regulatory measures introduced in the wake of the Lehman crisis designed to make the financial system safer ends up putting stress on banks at quarter-end and moreso at year-end.

What regulations are said to cause stress in the repo markets?

The Basel III regulatory framework, calculates a tiered capital surcharge on global systemically important banks (GSIB) and is based on factors like their geographical sprawl, complexity and absolute size.

These charges are calculated from a snapshot at the end of the year which means that the world’s biggest banks (JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America) are motivated to deflate the size of their overall balance sheet and trading book ahead of the end of every year, and then reflate them again afterwards.

This allows banks to essentially operate with less capital, boosting returns to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks and dividends.

Some believed that the spike in repo rates in December 2018 suggests that big banks were wary of playing their usual role in facilitating markets this year feeding the turbulence in the repo markets,

In mid-December 2018, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision opened up a consultation on whether it should revise its quarterly assessment of balance sheets, noting that “heightened volatility in various segments of money markets and derivatives markets around key reference dates (eg quarter-end dates) has alerted the Basel Committee to potential regulatory arbitrage by banks”.

Some argued that regulators could also easily tweak the impact by calculating daily averages rather than using a snapshot, and move to a smoother sliding scale of capital ratios as opposed to the current tiered approach that encourages gaming.

Changes have not been made to these regulations however, and the repo market continues to wreak havoc on Fed policy as of January 2020.

Advertisement

Author: Trader Court

CPA first, pivoted to python programmer focused on data science which I apply to my own stock and options trading.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: