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Slapped in the Face by the Invisible Hand: Banking and the Panic of 2007 Gary Gorton Yale and NBER.

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Presentation on theme: "Slapped in the Face by the Invisible Hand: Banking and the Panic of 2007 Gary Gorton Yale and NBER."— Presentation transcript:

1 Slapped in the Face by the Invisible Hand: Banking and the Panic of 2007 Gary Gorton Yale and NBER

2 J.S. Gibbons, The Banks of New York, Their Dealers, The Clearing House and the Panic of 1857 (1859), illustration by Herrick.


4 Introduction How did problems in one part of the housing market cause a systemic crisis? What is a systemic crisis? The current crisis is a banking panic, but it occurred in the wholesale bank market, not the retail bank market. Shadow banking is genuine banking, combining securitization and repo. Haircuts in the repo market increased, a run on the wholesale banks -- a systemic problem.

5 What Happens During a Panic? Depositors run en masse to their banks to withdraw cash in exchange for their deposits. Usually started in large cities, spreads to smaller towns. The banking system is insolvent because the banking system cannot honor contractual demands. It is not possible to sell the assets of the banking system. Banks suspend convertibility; cut-off info; issue new money. Checks can no longer be used. There is a shortage of cash for transactionsa currency famine. Cash is hoarded, causing a currency premium.

6 Pre-Fed U.S. Panics NBER Cycle Peak-Trough Panic Date %(C/D)% Pig Iron Loss per Deposit $ % and # Natl Bank Failures Oct Mar. 1879Sep (56) Mar May 1885Jun (10) Mar Apr. 1888No Panic (12) Jul May 1891Nov (14) Jan Jun. 1894May (74) Dec Jun. 1897Oct (60) Jun Dec.1900No Panic (12) Sep Aug. 1904No Panic (28) May 1907-Jun. 1908Oct (20) Jan Jan. 1912No Panic (10) Jan Dec. 1914Aug (28)

7 Previous Panics Panic occurs when there is a shock, leading depositors to question the value of demand deposits and to prefer cash instead. Depositors could not identify bank-specific risks, so they responded to aggregate news, and ran on all banks. Clearinghouse issues money and stops releasing information. Still, there is a collapse of the transactions infrastructure, a currency famine and a currency premium. The current panic will follow this same pattern.

8 Banking Safe place to store money and have a transaction medium. Transaction medium must be informationally-insensitive. Info insensitive means that the variance of its value is low- does not pay speculators to trade. Just need ratings. Historically, demand deposits: made info insensitive by deposit insurance. Banking activity has moved out of chartered banks into the capital markets. Not news. ABS and RMBS bonds are informationally-insensitive. Repo market is intermediation: repo is $12 trillion (?); TA in banking system is $10 trillion.

9 Repo A sale and repurchase agreement (repo) is a deposit of cash at a bank which is backed by collateral. Depositor receives the collateral. Collateral value may exceed the amount of cash deposited, i.e., there is a haircut. E.g., deposit $98, receive a bond worth $100. Later, the borrower/bank has the right to buy back the bond. Repo short term, but typically rolled. Collateral may be rehypothecated. Repo collateral: securitized products.

10 Sources: U.S. Department of Treasury, Federal Agencies, Thomson Financial, Inside MBS & ABS, Bloomberg.


12 Source: Flow of Funds.

13 Total Mortgage Originations (Billions) Subprime Originations (Billions) Subprime Share in Total Originations (% of dollar value) Subprime Mortgage Backed Securities (Billions) Percent Subprime Securitized (% of dollar value) 2001$2,215$1908.6%$9550.4% 2002$2,885$2318.0%$ % 2003$3,945$3358.5%$ % 2004$2,920$ %$ % 2005$3,120$ %$ % 2006$2,980$ %$ % Mortgage Originations and Subprime Securitization

14 Where did the risk go? We dont know for sure. Into CDOs, SIVs, institutional investor portfolios, pension funds, money market mutual funds. Counterparty fears.

15 Subprime Fundamentals and the Interbank Market LIBOIS on left-hand Y-axis, ABX spreads on right-hand y-axis.

16 LIBOIS and Other Assets Full Period,

17 Summary Assert classes unrelated to subprime, but important in the repo market, co-move with LIBOIS. The collapse of the repo market, and with it the availability of using these assets as alternatives to cash, caused spreads to widen.



20 Treasury Repo Fails


22 Conclusions Shadow banking is real banking. But, it was vulnerable to a panic. The panic centered on the repo market, where concerns about counterparty risk and the liquidity of collateral led to massive repo haircuts. In a panic, the banking system is insolvent.

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