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Sun Dec 11, 2011, 04:25 AM

 

The (sizable) Role of Rehypothecation in the Shadow Banking System

The United Kingdom provides a platform for higher leveraging stemming from the use (and re-use) of customer collateral. Furthermore, there are no policy initiatives to remove or reduce the asymmetry between United Kingdom and the United States on the use of customer collateral. We show that such U.K. funding to large U.S. banks is sizable and augments the measure of the shadow banking system. Supervisors of U.S. banks that report on a global consolidated basis need to enhance their understanding of the collateral funding that the U.S. banks receive in the United Kingdom.

Rehypothecation occurs when the collateral posted by a prime brokerage client (e.g., hedge fund) to its prime broker is used as collateral also by the prime broker for its own purposes. Every Customer Account Agreement or Prime Brokerage Agreement with a prime brokerage client will include blanket consent to this practice unless stated otherwise. In general, hedge funds pay less for the services of the prime broker if their collateral is allowed to be rehypothecated.

There has been very little research in this area. One of the first papers on this topic showed how the collapse in rehypothecation levels was contributing to global deleveraging after Lehman’s demise (Singh and Aitken, 2009a). Adrian and Shin (2009) provide an analytical model where collateral assets can be recycled by pledging and re-pledging; the model shows that during a crisis, the cumulative haircuts (or ‘margin spiral’) on pledged collateral can be sizable. Gorton (2009) shows that during a crisis, haircuts on collateral can result in a run on the shadow banking system. Singh and Aitken (2009b) show that counterparty risk during and in the aftermath of the recent crisis resulted in a decrease of up to $5 trillion in high- grade collateral due to reduced rehypothecation, decreased securities lending activities and the hoarding of unencumbered collateral.

This paper contributes to the ongoing policy debate on the size of the shadow banking system and how it impacted the funding for large banks. We show that in addition to the previously documented research (Adrian and Shin, etc.), that the shadow banking system was at least
50 percent larger than previously estimated. We also provide estimates from the hedge fund industry and their prime brokerage relationships with large banks for the “churning” or the extent of re-use of collateral. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section II discusses rehypothecation in the United Kingdom and the United States and the associated regulatory regimes; the United Kingdom provides a platform for higher leveraging (and deleveraging) not available in the United States. Section III highlights the collapse in rehypothecation levels in the United States, especially after the demise of Lehman. Section IV shows that the shadow banking system in the United States was much larger than envisaged, if we adjust for rehypothecation. Section V calculates the ‘churning’ factor for pledged collateral via hedge fund’s relationships with their prime brokers. Section VI concludes with some suggestions for regulators to enhance their understanding of the funding sources for large banks.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2010/wp10172.pdf

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Reply The (sizable) Role of Rehypothecation in the Shadow Banking System (Original post)
dkf Dec 2011 OP
dixiegrrrrl Dec 2011 #1
dkf Dec 2011 #2
dixiegrrrrl Dec 2011 #3
dkf Dec 2011 #4
dkf Dec 2011 #5
dixiegrrrrl Dec 2011 #6

Response to dkf (Original post)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 12:01 PM

1. Shades of MF Global.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 12:40 PM

2. What is confusing to me are those who say US banks have a known and survivable amount of exposure

 

to European debt, yet how can they possibly know what the shadow banking exposure is? Maybe the Feds know the numbers but I don't put it past them to hide it from us so we don't know how vulnerable the system possibly is.




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Response to dkf (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 12:52 PM

3. Guess it depends on who is saying that and how you define "known"

since most of the figures are notional, not real.
and most of the figures are counting the derivative exposure, which cannot be known until the banks/funds they are covering explode. You can only have "worse case" and "best case" scenarios..
all of which are in numbers bigger than the entire GDP of the planet anyhow.

I personally like the explanation that this is a game of musical chairs, last bank left standing.
While entire countries swirl down the drain, the banks are in a last ditch effort to grab pension funds, gold supplies, resources, etc.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 01:06 PM

4. Who? People who have an interest in keeping us invested. (cynical me)

 

Yet I am torn by the idea that it is precarious enough for everyone to pull out all the stops to keep things afloat.

Moreover what does it take for a bank to survive if many fail? Of course there were the cynics who said Goldman was waiting for the Euro banks to fail so they could pick up the pieces. I was surprised to see their hypothecation numbers were small compared to Morgan Stanley.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 03:02 PM

5. Ah, this must be what your last sentence refers to...

 

"Recent regulatory efforts will require significant collateral on many fronts—Basel’s liquidity ratios, EU Solvency II and CRD IV, and moving OTC derivatives to CCPs. Unless there is a rebound in the pledgeable collateral market, the likely asymmetry in the demand and supply in this market may entail some difficult choices for the markets and the regulators.

It stands to reason that the collateral grab has been exacerbated as financial institutions anticipate the onset of these regulations. This has already led to much talk about a burgeoning collateral transformation industry, though apparently there remain questions as to how big it will get and what kinds of unintended systemic risk could result."

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2011/12/05/778301/the-decline-of-safe-assets/

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Response to dkf (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 04:53 PM

6. Yep, that last paragraph...

In English, and keeping it simple, as I am wont to do:
musical chairs.

Tis a historical pattern, easily seen.
competition and greed leads to consolidation of power ( and corruption) until there are only 2-3 giants left, who fight to be #1, and in the process sow the seeds for their collapse since they "ate" all their resources in growing to such a size.
Given those dynamics, and the size of the giants of late, I personally need to think like an ant.

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