The decision to boot Russian lenders from the global bank messaging system as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine is a very bad idea that could boomerang and hurt the West, Credit Suisse admonishes.
“Exclusions from SWIFT will lead to missed payments and giant overdrafts similar to the missed payments and giant overdrafts that we saw in March 2020,” wrote Credit Suisse strategist Zoltan Pozsar, in a research note.
“Exclusions from SWIFT will lead to missed payments everywhere,” Pozsar wrote. Two years ago, “the virus froze the flow of goods and services that led to missed payments.” Aside from the financial panic at the outset of the pandemic, the world ran into a similar problem in 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, he said.
Pozsar wrote: “Banks’ inability to make payments due to their exclusion from SWIFT is the same as Lehman’s inability to make payments due to its clearing bank’s unwillingness to send payments on its behalf. History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”
Author(s): Larry Light
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2022
Publication Site: ai-CIO
The war in Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions have triggered a bank run in Russia. But this is no ordinary run—it may become a run on the central bank itself, one that holds important lessons for introducing central bank digital currencies.
Reports show Russians lining up at ATMs to withdraw their cash. For now, the run is largely driven by fears of withdrawal limits and the anticipation that credit cards and electronic means of payments will cease to function. If that happens, cash at hand is the better alternative. For that scenario, central banks know what to do: provide solvent banks with plenty of liquidity against good collateral, as Walter Bagehot recommended.
But will that be all? As Western countries freeze the Russian central bank’s reserves and limit the ability of banks to transact internationally, the exchange rate of the ruble has collapsed, falling by more than 40 percent. Prices for ordinary goods may begin to rise, perhaps dramatically so. If that happens, then rubles would no longer be a good store of value. Russians may seek to convert them into foreign currency, but that’s hard to do with the current sanctions. Consequently, they may start to hoard goods instead, dumping their cash as they go along. The situation would no longer be a run on specific goods, but a run away from fiat money and toward goods—a run, in other words, on the central bank.
Author(s): Linda Schilling, Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Harald Uhlig
Publication Date: 7 Mar 2022
Publication Site: City Journal
The Bank of England has fined Standard Chartered £46.5m for repeatedly misreporting its liquidity position and for “failing to be open and cooperative” with the regulator.
The Bank’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) said Standard Chartered had made five errors in reporting an important liquidity metric between March 2018 and May 2019, which meant the watchdog did not have a reliable overview of the bank’s US dollar liquidity position.
One of the errors occurred in November 2018, as a result of a mistake in a spreadsheet entry. A positive amount was included when a zero or negative value was expected, leading to an $7.9bn (£6bn) over-reporting of the bank’s dollar liquidity position.
Author(s): Joanna Partridge
Publication Date: 20 Dec 2021
Publication Site: The Guardian
The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) looks at what consumers want, and need, in a new batch of results from a survey of 2,034 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older, that was conducted in November 2020, as the third U.S. wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning.
About 68% of the MDRT survey participants had investments of some kind, according to the public results summary and the survey executive summary.
The pandemic hit the finances of many of the survey participants hard: 19% said their income rose in 2020, but 35% said their income fell.
About 82% of all of the participants said they were saving money, and many of them reported aiming more for liquidity than for a secure retirement.
Author(s): Allison Bell
Publication Date: 23 March 2021
Publication Site: Think Advisor
Chicago’s municipal pension plan recently redeemed $50 million from a large-cap equity fund. Seems like a non-event. Happens all the time. But the reason the pension plan did so is chilling: It was done specifically in order to make pension benefit payments. This should be a cautionary flag to underfunded pensions and to the state and municipal governments that sponsor them.
First, when pensions are underfunded they have a tendency (or need) to take on more risk in order to try to generate higher returns.
For example, underfunded pension plans are increasing their allocations to private equity. Nothing wrong with that. But that means more of the portfolio is illiquid. It would be very unlikely that private equity positions would be sold to “make payroll,” specifically because they are so illiquid. But this leaves fewer assets that are liquid enough to be sold, and that increases the pressure on those liquid assets to be sold at a decent price. Moreover, if the plan has significant assets in liquid securities, such as large-cap equities or Treasurys, those assets can easily be sold, but then the portfolio will be out of balance and will require additional trading and rebalancing anyway.
Secondly, the pension plan must keep more cash on hand than it otherwise would. If your policy portfolio calls for a 3% allocation to cash, that is designed for diversification and dry powder. But a pension plan sponsor should be providing significant amounts of cash into the pension each year. If the sponsor is not making its contributions, then the pension plan has to carry more cash than it otherwise would.
Author(s): Charles Millard
Publication Date: 7 April 2021
Publication Site: Plansponsor