Tuesday, 03 January 2017 15:20

What Happens To Real Asset Lending Banks When the Real Funding Rate Appears? We're About to Find Out Featured

During the financial crisis of 2008, money market funds who subjectively agreed to hold their NAV (net asset value) unit prices at $1 “broke the buck”. That is, the unit of share of the fund fell below $1 (the $62.5 billion Reserve Fund, to be specific, one of only two funds to “break the buck”), which was a significant problem for the investors who used (and considered) said money market funds as cash in the bank. All of a sudden, everyone’s cash account at the Reserve Fund just dipped in value. Uh Oh! This caused short term credit to literally freeze, worldwide, because others were concerned that their bank-like security and liquidity was no longer that secure nor liquid.

Regulators stepped in to make sure this didn’t happen again by demanding that all money funds who do not invest in sovereign securities (those entities who “should” be able to print their own monies, but we’ll get into that in a later post) allow their NAV to freely float with market prices.

The result? Money flew out of prime money funds into perceived safer vehicles.

Demand for government short term paper has increased (to the tune of hundreds of billion of dollars).


... and demand for private commercial paper, ie. banks, have dropped by a similar amount, materially driving costs - materially, as in doubling it!

What does this mean?

No, this is not a punishment. This is actually a good thing, for it forces money to have an appropriately derived price tag attached to it. Risky banks were being funded at the same risk rate as (less risky) sovereign governments. That didn’t make sense. Now the system makes more sense, and banks should be repriced according to their access to, and true cost of, capital. The true cost of capital means that banks can no longer hide behind fake LIBOR quotes to conceal their deteriorating credit metrics. Reference Wikipedia:

The Libor scandal was a series of fraudulent actions connected to the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) and also the resulting investigation and reaction. The Libor is an average interest rate calculated through submissions of interest rates by major banks across the world. The scandal arose when it was discovered that banks were falsely inflating or deflating their rates so as to profit from trades, or to give the impression that they were more creditworthy than they were.[3] Libor underpins approximately $350 trillion in derivatives. It is currently administered by NYSE Euronext, which took over running the Libor in January 2014.[4]

Look at what happened to LIBOR consistently after NYSE Euronext took over adminstration. Those spikes that you see previous to that takeover stem from the European sovereign debt crisis. Those numbers had been faked! No telling what the true level of stress really was. Well, this time around we may get to find out. To put this into perspective, the global money market industry is $2.6 trillion in assets. Deutsche Bank’s (a bank that is in trouble) balance sheet is almost $2 trillion dollars. JP Morgan’s balance sheet is $2.4 trillion dollars. Both of these banks have been shrinking their balance sheets.

As excerpted from Bloomberg:

With a seismic overhaul of the $2.6 trillion money-market industry weeks away from kicking in, money managers are bracing for a last-minute exodus of as much as $300 billion from funds in regulators’ cross hairs.

Prime funds, which seek higher yields by buying securities like commercial paper, are at the center of the upheaval. Their assets have already plunged by almost $700 billion since the start of 2015, to $789 billion, Investment Company Institute data show. The outflow has rippled across financial markets, shattering demand for banks’ and other companies’ short-term debt and raising their funding costs.

Interestingly enough, and as is par for the course, we see things differently from the Street, as also excerpted:

Financial firms paying higher rates to attract investors to their IOUs will push three-month Libor to about 0.95 percent by the end of September, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Click here to read more about rising Libor rates.

Although bank funding costs are rising, it isn’t a signal of financial strain as in 2008, said Jerome Schneider, head of short-term portfolio management at Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co., which oversees about $1.5 trillion.

“This is not a credit stress event, it’s a credit repricing due to systemic and structural changes,” he said.

He’s right. It’s not a credit stress event… yet! But, the credit repricing will force a reality and discipline on an industry accustomed to near zero and negative interest rates that it is ill-fitted to handle, and thus in due time, it will likely provide at least a partial impetus for… “a credit stress event”.

NiM (net interest margin - the profit from actual old school banking businesses, ie. lending) is still quite sparse in banks. So, revenue is slim, but expenses to access said capital to conduct business are going up. That's never a good sign. Worse yet, the Fed has signalled it will, yet again, hold off on an interest rate increase - As I have been telling you since December of 2014.

The issue is, the Fed does not truly control the market, it simply manipulates it to the best of its ability. When it's ready, the market will raise rates on its own. Reference where short term rates are trending now, likely as reflection of the Fed not raising rates.

This is particularly true for the European banks...

Our next post will describe how well Deutsche Bank is prepared for such an event. Stay tuned, and if you have not already done so, subscribe to our long/short, macro and educational research (including blockchain tech) - see Corporate Valuation & Equity Research.

We have a brand new DB report out today, reference Derivative Risk Exposure of Major Banks to Deutsche Bank.

Last modified on Friday, 06 January 2017 10:30

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