Low Interest Rates and Business Investments : Update August 2017

Low Interest Rates and Business Investments : Update August 2017


From  Explaining Low Investment Spending




Please see my earlier posts.

Business Investments and Low Interest Rates

Mergers and Acquisitions – Long Term Trends and Waves

The Decline in Long Term Real Interest Rates

Short term Thinking in Investment Decisions of Businesses and Financial Markets

Low Interest Rates and Monetary Policy Effectiveness

Low Interest Rates and Banks’ Profitability : Update July 2017

Low Interest Rates and Banks Profitability: Update – December 2016


Since my earlier posts on this subject there has been several new studies published highlighting weakness in business investments as one of the cause of slower economic growth and lower interest rates.

Other significant factors impacting interest rates are demographic changes, and slower economic growth.

I argue that there is mutual (circular) causality in weak business investment, slower economic growth, and lower interest rates which reinforce each other.


Decreased competition, increased concentration, corporate savings glut, share buybacks, paying dividends are also identified as factors.

Number of public companies have decreased significantly in USA since 1996 due to M&A activity.   See the data below.

Increased Mergers/Acquisitions, Increased Concentration, Decreased Competition, Decreased Number of Public Companies, Share buybacks, and Dividend Payouts are multiple perspectives of same problem.


From The Incredible Shrinking Universe of Stocks

The Causes and Consequences of Fewer U.S. Equities



Key sources of Research:

The Low Level of Global Real Interest Rates

Remarks by
Stanley Fischer
Vice Chairman
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

at the
Conference to Celebrate Arminio Fraga’s 60 Years
Casa das Garcas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

July 31, 2017

The Low Level of Global Real Interest Rates




German Gutierrez Thomas Philippon

Working Paper 22897


1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

December 2016





Explaining Low Investment Spending

The NBER Digest

February 2017

Explaining Low Investment Spending



The Secular Stagnation of Investment?

Callum Jones and Thomas Philippon

December 2016


The Secular Stagnation of Investment?



Is there an investment gap in advanced economies? If so, why?

By Robin Dottling, German Gutierrez and Thomas Philippon


Is there an investment gap in advanced economies? If so, why?



The Disappointing Recovery of Output after 2009



May 2, 2017

The Disappointing Recovery of Output after 2009



Declining Competition and Investment in the U.S.

German Gutierrez and Thomas Philippon


July 2017


Declining Competition and Investment in the U.S



Real Interest Rates Over the Long Run : Decline and convergence since the 1980s

Kei-Mu Yi   Jing Zhang



Real Interest Rates over the Long Run Decline and convergence since the 1980s, due significantly to factors causing lower investment demand



Understanding global trends in long-run real interest rates

Kei-Mu Yi and Jing Zhang

Economic Perspectives, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2017
Chicago Fed Reserve Bank


Understanding Global Trends in Long-run Real Interest Rates



Weakness in Investment Growth: Causes, Implications and Policy Responses

CAMA Working Paper 19/2017 March 2017

M. Ayhan Kose

Franziska Ohnsorge

Lei Sandy Ye

Ergys Islamaj


Weakness in Investment Growth: Causes, Implications and Policy Responses



Are US Industries Becoming More Concentrated?

Gustavo Grullon, Yelena Larkin and Roni Michaely

October 2016


Are US Industries Becoming More Concentrated?



Why Is Global Business Investment So Weak? Some Insights from Advanced Economies


Robert Fay, Justin-Damien Guénette, Martin Leduc and Louis Morel,

International Economic Analysis Department

Bank of Canada Review Spring 2017


Why Is Global Business Investment So Weak? Some Insights from Advanced Economies



What Is Behind the Weakness in Global Investment?

by Maxime Leboeuf and Bob Fay


Bank of Canada


What Is Behind the Weakness in Global Investment?

 A Structural Interpretation of the Recent Weakness in Business Investment

by Russell Barnett and Rhys Mendes

 The Corporate Saving Glut in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis


Gruber, Joseph W., and Steven B. Kamin

International Finance Discussion Papers
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Number 1150 October 2015


The Corporate Saving Glut in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis



The Incredible Shrinking Universe of Stocks

The Causes and Consequences of Fewer U.S. Equities

March 22, 2017




The Incredible Shrinking Universe of Stocks The Causes and Consequences of Fewer U.S. Equities



They Just Get Bigger: How Corporate Mergers Strangle the Economy

Jordan Brennan

2017 February 19

They Just Get Bigger: How Corporate Mergers Strangle the Economy



Rising Corporate Concentration, Declining Trade Union Power, and the Growing Income Gap: American Prosperity in Historical Perspective

Jordan Brennan

March 2016


Rising Corporate Concentration, Declining Trade Union Power, and the Growing Income Gap: American Prosperity in Historical Perspective

Low Interest Rates and Monetary Policy Effectiveness

Low Interest Rates and Monetary Policy Effectiveness


World economy is stuck in low interest rates environment.   Euro area, japan have even negative interest rates.  US Fed Reserve since December 2016 has started raising interest rates.

Attempts by Central Banks have not been effective in increasing economic growth.  Many Economists now are presenting counter intuitive reasons for low growth.


Please see my earlier related posts.

Business Investments and Low Interest Rates

Mergers and Acquisitions – Long Term Trends and Waves


Since 2016, there are several new studies published exploring effectiveness of monetary policy in low interest rates environment.


Is monetary policy less effective when interest rates are persistently low?

by Claudio Borio and Boris Hofmann

April 2017

Is Monetary Policy Less Effective When Interest Rates are Persistently Low?


In March 2017, Brookings Institution published the following study by the economists of the US Federal Reserve.

Monetary policy in a low interest rate world


Fed Reserve of Chicago published speech given by Charles Evans in 2016.

Monetary Policy in a Lower Interest Rate Environment


Lecture by Vítor Constâncio, Vice-President of the ECB, Macroeconomics Symposium at Utrecht School of Economics, 15 June 2016

The challenge of low real interest rates for monetary policy


Journal of Policy Modeling published a paper by Ken Rogoff.  Paper was presented at American Economic Association, 2017.

Monetary policy in a low interest rate world


Eight BIS CCA Research Conference on “Low interest rates, monetary policy and international spillovers”, hosted by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington DC, 25-26 May 2017

Low interest rates, monetary policy and international spillovers


Economist Magazine published an article on views of Bill Gross and others.

November 2015

Do ultra-low interest rates really damage growth?


Bloomberg Business Week published an article describing views of Charles Calomiris and others.

June 2017

Is the World Overdoing Low Interest Rates?


Claudio Borio and Boris Hofmann

The Paper was prepared for the Reserve Bank of Australia conference
“Monetary Policy and Financial Stability in a World of Low Interest Rates”,

16-17 March 2017, Sydney

Is monetary policy less effective when interest rates are persistently low?


Monetary policy and bank lending in a low interest rate environment: diminishing effectiveness?

Claudio Borio and Leonardo Gambacorta

February 2017

Monetary policy and bank lending in a low interest rate environment: diminishing effectiveness?


Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP):
Implications for Monetary Transmission and Bank Profitability in the Euro Area

Prepared by Andreas (Andy) Jobst and Huidan Lin


August 2016

Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP): Implications for Monetary Transmission and Bank Profitability in the Euro Area


James Bullard, President and CEO of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

March 24, 2009

The Henry Thornton Lecture, Cass Business School, London

Effective Monetary Policy in a Low Interest Rate Environment


Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Monetary Policy, Financial Conditions, and Financial Stability

Tobias Adrian
Nellie Liang

Monetary Policy, Financial Conditions, and Financial Stability


Monetary policy, the financial cycle and ultra-low interest rates

Mikael Juselius of Bank of Finland

DNB Workshop on “Estimating and Interpreting Financial Cycles”

Amsterdam, 2 September 2016

Monetary policy, the financial cycle and ultra-low interest rates

BIS Paper

Monetary policy, the financial cycle and ultra-low interest rates


The dynamics of real interest rates, monetary policy and its limits

Philippe d’Arvisenet

May 2016

The dynamics of real interest rates, monetary policy and its limits


Output Gaps and Monetary Policy at Low Interest Rates

By Roberto M. Billi

Output Gaps and Monetary Policy at Low Interest Rates


The insensitivity of investment to interest rates: Evidence from a survey of CFOs

Steve A. Sharpe and Gustavo A. Suarez


The insensitivity of investment to interest rates: Evidence from a survey of CFOs


Does Prolonged Monetary Policy Easing Increase Financial Vulnerability?

Prepared by Stephen Cecchetti, Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli, and Machiko Narita

February 2017

Does Prolonged Monetary Policy Easing Increase Financial Vulnerability?


The Microeconomic Perils of Monetary Policy Experiments

Charles W. Calomiris

Cato Institute

The Microeconomic Perils of Monetary Policy Experiments


Why Have the Fed’s Policies Failed to Stimulate the Economy?

Mickey D. Levy

Cato Institute

Why Have the Fed’s Policies Failed to Stimulate the Economy?

Low Interest Rates and Banks’ Profitability : Update July 2017

Low Interest Rates and Banks’ Profitability : Update July 2017


Please see my previous posts.

Impact of Low Interest Rates on Bank’s Profitability

Low Interest Rates and Banks Profitability: Update – December 2016


Since December 2016, there are several new studies published which study low interest rates and Banks profitability.



Liberty State economics – a Blog of New York Federal Reserve has published a new column in June 2017.

Low Interest Rates and Bank Profits



Reduced Viability? Banks, Insurance Companies, and Low Interest Rates

CFA Institute


CFA Institute Blog: Low Interest Rates and Banks



Changes in Profitability for Primary Dealers since the Financial Crisis

Benjamin Allen

Skidmore College


Changes in Profitability for Primary Dealers since the Financial Crisis



Deloitte Consulting has published a new report in 2017 on Bank Models viability in environment of low interest rates.

Business model analysis European banking sector model in question


July 7, 2016
International banker





Low interest rates place a strain on the banks

bank of Finland





The profitability of EU banks: Hard work or a lost cause?


October 2016





The influence of monetary policy on bank profitability

Claudio Borio





Can Low Interest Rates be Harmful: An Assessment of the Bank Risk-Taking Channel in Asia


Asian Development Bank





Determinants of bank’s interest margin in the aftermath of the crisis: the effect of interest rates and the yield curve slope

Paula Cruz-García, Juan Fernández de Guevara and Joaquín Maudos





Dutch Central Bank has published a new study in November of 2016 on Banks’ Profitability and risk taking in a prolonged environment of Low Interest Rates.

Bank profitability and risk taking in a prolonged environment of low interest rates: a study of interest rate risk in the banking book of Dutch banks



Net interest margin in a low interest rate environment: Evidence for Slovenia

Net interest margin in a low interest rate environment: Evidence for Slovenia


Global Financial Stability Report, April 2017: Getting the Policy Mix Right



IMF Global Financial Stability Report April 2017



Negative Interest Rates: Forecasting Banks’ Profitability in a New Environment

Stefan Kerbl, Michael Sigmund

Bank of Finland

Negative Interest Rates: Forecasting Banks’ Profitability in a New Environment



Low Interest Rates and the Financial System

Remarks by Jerome H. Powell
Member Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
at the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Finance Association
Chicago, Illinois
January 7, 2017




Bad zero: Financial Stability in a Low Interest Rate Environment

Elena Carletti  Giuseppe Ferrero

18 June 2017


Short term Thinking in Investment Decisions of Businesses and Financial Markets

Short term Thinking in Investment Decisions of Businesses and Financial Markets


When companies buyback shares and pay dividends rather than investing in new capacity, it leads to low economic growth and low aggregate demand.

Central Banks respond by cutting interest rates.  Yet Businesses do not invest in new capacity.

Many studies attribute this to short term thinking dominant in corporate investment decisions.  Pressures from shareholders push corporate managers to be short term oriented.

Many economists and thinkers have criticized this recently as advanced economies are suffering from anemic growth.

Larry Summers has invoked Secular Stagnation.  He says one of the reason for Secular Stagnation is short term thinking.

Andy Haldane of Bank of England has criticized short term thinking as it prevents investments and causes low economic growth.

Key Terms:

  • Quarterly Capitalism
  • Secular Stagnation
  • Short Term Thinking
  • Low Economic Growth
  • Business Investments
  • Real Interest Rates
  • Monetary Policy
  • Income and Wealth Inequality
  • Aggregate Demand
  • Productive Capacity
  • Productivity growth
  • Long Term Investments
  • Share Buybacks
  • Dividends
  • Corporate Cash Pools


Capitalism for the Long Term

The near meltdown of the financial system and the ensuing Great Recession have been, and will remain, the defining issue for the current generation of executives. Now that the worst seems to be behind us, it’s tempting to feel deep relief—and a strong desire to return to the comfort of business as usual. But that is simply not an option. In the past three years we’ve already seen a dramatic acceleration in the shifting balance of power between the developed West and the emerging East, a rise in populist politics and social stresses in a number of countries, and significant strains on global governance systems. As the fallout from the crisis continues, we’re likely to see increased geopolitical rivalries, new international security challenges, and rising tensions from trade, migration, and resource competition. For business leaders, however, the most consequential outcome of the crisis is the challenge to capitalism itself.

That challenge did not just arise in the wake of the Great Recession. Recall that trust in business hit historically low levels more than a decade ago. But the crisis and the surge in public antagonism it unleashed have exacerbated the friction between business and society. On top of anxiety about persistent problems such as rising income inequality, we now confront understandable anger over high unemployment, spiraling budget deficits, and a host of other issues. Governments feel pressure to reach ever deeper inside businesses to exert control and prevent another system-shattering event.

My goal here is not to offer yet another assessment of the actions policymakers have taken or will take as they try to help restart global growth. The audience I want to engage is my fellow business leaders. After all, much of what went awry before and after the crisis stemmed from failures of governance, decision making, and leadership within companies. These are failures we can and should address ourselves.

In an ongoing effort that started 18 months ago, I’ve met with more than 400 business and government leaders across the globe. Those conversations have reinforced my strong sense that, despite a certain amount of frustration on each side, the two groups share the belief that capitalism has been and can continue to be the greatest engine of prosperity ever devised—and that we will need it to be at the top of its job-creating, wealth-generating game in the years to come. At the same time, there is growing concern that if the fundamental issues revealed in the crisis remain unaddressed and the system fails again, the social contract between the capitalist system and the citizenry may truly rupture, with unpredictable but severely damaging results.

Most important, the dialogue has clarified for me the nature of the deep reform that I believe business must lead—nothing less than a shift from what I call quarterly capitalism to what might be referred to as long-term capitalism. (For a rough definition of “long term,” think of the time required to invest in and build a profitable new business, which McKinsey research suggests is at least five to seven years.) This shift is not just about persistently thinking and acting with a next-generation view—although that’s a key part of it. It’s about rewiring the fundamental ways we govern, manage, and lead corporations. It’s also about changing how we view business’s value and its role in society.

There are three essential elements of the shift. First, business and finance must jettison their short-term orientation and revamp incentives and structures in order to focus their organizations on the long term. Second, executives must infuse their organizations with the perspective that serving the interests of all major stakeholders—employees, suppliers, customers, creditors, communities, the environment—is not at odds with the goal of maximizing corporate value; on the contrary, it’s essential to achieving that goal. Third, public companies must cure the ills stemming from dispersed and disengaged ownership by bolstering boards’ ability to govern like owners.

When making major decisions, Asians typically think in terms of at least 10 to 15 years. In the U.S. and Europe, nearsightedness is the norm.

None of these ideas, or the specific proposals that follow, are new. What is new is the urgency of the challenge. Business leaders today face a choice: We can reform capitalism, or we can let capitalism be reformed for us, through political measures and the pressures of an angry public. The good news is that the reforms will not only increase trust in the system; they will also strengthen the system itself. They will unleash the innovation needed to tackle the world’s grand challenges, pave the way for a new era of shared prosperity, and restore public faith in business.

1. Fight the Tyranny of Short-Termism

As a Canadian who for 25 years has counseled business, public sector, and nonprofit leaders across the globe (I’ve lived in Toronto, Sydney, Seoul, Shanghai, and now London), I’ve had a privileged glimpse into different societies’ values and how leaders in various cultures think. In my view, the most striking difference between East and West is the time frame leaders consider when making major decisions. Asians typically think in terms of at least 10 to 15 years. For example, in my discussions with the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak shortly after his election in 2008, he asked us to help come up with a 60-year view of his country’s future (though we settled for producing a study called National Vision 2020.) In the U.S. and Europe, nearsightedness is the norm. I believe that having a long-term perspective is the competitive advantage of many Asian economies and businesses today.

Myopia plagues Western institutions in every sector. In business, the mania over quarterly earnings consumes extraordinary amounts of senior time and attention. Average CEO tenure has dropped from 10 to six years since 1995, even as the complexity and scale of firms have grown. In politics, democracies lurch from election to election, with candidates proffering dubious short-term panaceas while letting long-term woes in areas such as economic competitiveness, health, and education fester. Even philanthropy often exhibits a fetish for the short term and the new, with grantees expected to become self-sustaining in just a few years.

Lost in the frenzy is the notion that long-term thinking is essential for long-term success. Consider Toyota, whose journey to world-class manufacturing excellence was years in the making. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s it endured low to nonexistent sales in the U.S.—and it even stopped exporting altogether for one bleak four-year period—before finally emerging in the following decades as a global leader. Think of Hyundai, which experienced quality problems in the late 1990s but made a comeback by reengineering its cars for long-term value—a strategy exemplified by its unprecedented introduction, in 1999, of a 10-year car warranty. That radical move, viewed by some observers as a formula for disaster, helped Hyundai quadruple U.S. sales in three years and paved the way for its surprising entry into the luxury market.

To be sure, long-term perspectives can be found in the West as well. For example, in 1985, in the face of fierce Japanese competition, Intel famously decided to abandon its core business, memory chips, and focus on the then-emerging business of microprocessors. This “wrenching” decision was “nearly inconceivable” at the time, says Andy Grove, who was then the company’s president. Yet by making it, Intel emerged in a few years on top of a new multi-billion-dollar industry. Apple represents another case in point. The iPod, released in 2001, sold just 400,000 units in its first year, during which Apple’s share price fell by roughly 25%. But the board took the long view. By late 2009 the company had sold 220 million iPods—and revolutionized the music business.

It’s fair to say, however, that such stories are countercultural. In the 1970s the average holding period for U.S. equities was about seven years; now it’s more like seven months. According to a recent paper by Andrew Haldane, of the Bank of England, such churning has made markets far more volatile and produced yawning gaps between corporations’ market price and their actual value. Then there are the “hyperspeed” traders (some of whom hold stocks for only a few seconds), who now account for 70% of all U.S. equities trading, by one estimate. In response to these trends, executives must do a better job of filtering input, and should give more weight to the views of investors with a longer-term, buy-and-hold orientation.

If they don’t, short-term capital will beget short-term management through a natural chain of incentives and influence. If CEOs miss their quarterly earnings targets, some big investors agitate for their removal. As a result, CEOs and their top teams work overtime to meet those targets. The unintended upshot is that they manage for only a small portion of their firm’s value. When McKinsey’s finance experts deconstruct the value expectations embedded in share prices, we typically find that 70% to 90% of a company’s value is related to cash flows expected three or more years out. If the vast majority of most firms’ value depends on results more than three years from now, but management is preoccupied with what’s reportable three months from now, then capitalism has a problem.

Roughly 70% of all U.S. equities trading is now done by “hyperspeed” traders—some of whom hold stocks for only a few seconds.

Some rightly resist playing this game. Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Ford, to name just a few, have stopped issuing earnings guidance altogether. Google never did. IBM has created five-year road maps to encourage investors to focus more on whether it will reach its long-term earnings targets than on whether it exceeds or misses this quarter’s target by a few pennies. “I can easily make my numbers by cutting SG&A or R&D, but then we wouldn’t get the innovations we need,” IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano, told us recently. Mark Wiseman, executive vice president at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, advocates investing “for the next quarter century,” not the next quarter. And Warren Buffett has quipped that his ideal holding period is “forever.” Still, these remain admirable exceptions.

To break free of the tyranny of short-termism, we must start with those who provide capital. Taken together, pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, and sovereign wealth funds hold $65 trillion, or roughly 35% of the world’s financial assets. If these players focus too much attention on the short term, capitalism as a whole will, too.

In theory they shouldn’t, because the beneficiaries of these funds have an obvious interest in long-term value creation. But although today’s standard practices arose from the desire to have a defensible, measurable approach to portfolio management, they have ended up encouraging shortsightedness. Fund trustees, often advised by investment consultants, assess their money managers’ performance relative to benchmark indices and offer only short-term contracts. Those managers’ compensation is linked to the amount of assets they manage, which typically rises when short-term performance is strong. Not surprisingly, then, money managers focus on such performance—and pass this emphasis along to the companies in which they invest. And so it goes, on down the line.

Only 45% of those surveyed in the U.S. and the UK expressed trust in business. This stands in stark contrast to developing countries: For example, the figure is 61% in China, 70% in India, and 81% in Brazil.

As the stewardship advocate Simon Wong points out, under the current system pension funds deem an asset manager who returns 10% to have underperformed if the relevant benchmark index rises by 12%. Would it be unthinkable for institutional investors instead to live with absolute gains on the (perfectly healthy) order of 10%—especially if they like the approach that delivered those gains—and review performance every three or five years, instead of dropping the 10-percenter? Might these big funds set targets for the number of holdings and rates of turnover, at least within the “fundamental investing” portion of their portfolios, and more aggressively monitor those targets? More radically, might they end the practice of holding thousands of stocks and achieve the benefits of diversification with fewer than a hundred—thereby increasing their capacity to effectively engage with the businesses they own and improve long-term performance? Finally, could institutional investors beef up their internal skills and staff to better execute such an agenda? These are the kinds of questions we need to address if we want to align capital’s interests more closely with capitalism’s.

2. Serve Stakeholders, Enrich Shareholders

The second imperative for renewing capitalism is disseminating the idea that serving stakeholders is essential to maximizing corporate value. Too often these aims are presented as being in tension: You’re either a champion of shareholder value or you’re a fan of the stakeholders. This is a false choice.

The inspiration for shareholder-value maximization, an idea that took hold in the 1970s and 1980s, was reasonable: Without some overarching financial goal with which to guide and gauge a firm’s performance, critics feared, managers could divert corporate resources to serve their own interests rather than the owners’. In fact, in the absence of concrete targets, management might become an exercise in politics and stakeholder engagement an excuse for inefficiency. Although this thinking was quickly caricatured in popular culture as the doctrine of “greed is good,” and was further tarnished by some companies’ destructive practices in its name, in truth there was never any inherent tension between creating value and serving the interests of employees, suppliers, customers, creditors, communities, and the environment. Indeed, thoughtful advocates of value maximization have always insisted that it is long-term value that has to be maximized.

Capitalism’s founding philosopher voiced an even bolder aspiration. “All the members of human society stand in need of each others assistance, and are likewise exposed to mutual injuries,” Adam Smith wrote in his 1759 work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. “The wise and virtuous man,” he added, “is at all times willing that his own private interest should be sacrificed to the public interest,” should circumstances so demand.

Smith’s insight into the profound interdependence between business and society, and how that interdependence relates to long-term value creation, still reverberates. In 2008 and again in 2010, McKinsey surveyed nearly 2,000 executives and investors; more than 75% said that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives create corporate value in the long term. Companies that bring a real stakeholder perspective into corporate strategy can generate tangible value even sooner. (See the sidebar “Who’s Getting It Right?”)

Creating direct business value, however, is not the only or even the strongest argument for taking a societal perspective. Capitalism depends on public trust for its legitimacy and its very survival. According to the Edelman public relations agency’s just-released 2011 Trust Barometer, trust in business in the U.S. and the UK (although up from mid-crisis record lows) is only in the vicinity of 45%. This stands in stark contrast to developing countries: For example, the figure is 61% in China, 70% in India, and 81% in Brazil. The picture is equally bleak for individual corporations in the Anglo-American world, “which saw their trust rankings drop again last year to near-crisis lows,” says Richard Edelman.

How can business leaders restore the public’s trust? Many Western executives find that nothing in their careers has prepared them for this new challenge. Lee Scott, Walmart’s former CEO, has been refreshingly candid about arriving in the top job with a serious blind spot. He was plenty busy minding the store, he says, and had little feel for the need to engage as a statesman with groups that expected something more from the world’s largest company. Fortunately, Scott was a fast learner, and Walmart has become a leader in environmental and health care issues.

Tomorrow’s CEOs will have to be, in Joseph Nye’s apt phrase, “tri-sector athletes”: able and experienced in business, government, and the social sector. But the pervading mind-set gets in the way of building those leadership and management muscles. “Analysts and investors are focused on the short term,” one executive told me recently. “They believe social initiatives don’t create value in the near term.” In other words, although a large majority of executives believe that social initiatives create value in the long term, they don’t act on this belief, out of fear that financial markets might frown. Getting capital more aligned with capitalism should help businesses enrich shareholders by better serving stakeholders.

3. Act Like You Own the Place

As the financial sector’s troubles vividly exposed, when ownership is broadly fragmented, no one acts like he’s in charge. Boards, as they currently operate, don’t begin to serve as a sufficient proxy. All the Devils Are Here, by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, describes how little awareness Merrill Lynch’s board had of the firm’s soaring exposure to subprime mortgage instruments until it was too late. “I actually don’t think risk management failed,” Larry Fink, the CEO of the investment firm BlackRock, said during a 2009 debate about the future of capitalism, sponsored by the Financial Times. “I think corporate governance failed, because…the boards didn’t ask the right questions.”

What McKinsey has learned from studying successful family-owned companies suggests a way forward: The most effective ownership structure tends to combine some exposure in the public markets (for the discipline and capital access that exposure helps provide) with a significant, committed, long-term owner. Most large public companies, however, have extremely dispersed ownership, and boards rarely perform the single-owner-proxy role. As a result, CEOs too often listen to the investors (and members of the media) who make the most noise. Unfortunately, those parties tend to be the most nearsighted ones. And so the tyranny of the short term is reinforced.

The answer is to renew corporate governance by rooting it in committed owners and by giving those owners effective mechanisms with which to influence management. We call this ownership-based governance, and it requires three things:

Just 43% of the nonexecutive directors of public companies believe they significantly influence strategy. For this to change, board members must devote much more time to their roles.

More-effective boards.

In the absence of a dominant shareholder (and many times when there is one), the board must represent a firm’s owners and serve as the agent of long-term value creation. Even among family firms, the executives of the top-performing companies wield their influence through the board. But only 43% of the nonexecutive directors of public companies believe they significantly influence strategy. For this to change, board members must devote much more time to their roles. A government-commissioned review of the governance of British banks last year recommended an enormous increase in the time required of nonexecutive directors of banks—from the current average, between 12 and 20 days annually, to between 30 and 36 days annually. What’s especially needed is an increase in the informal time board members spend with investors and executives. The nonexecutive board directors of companies owned by private equity firms spend 54 days a year, on average, attending to the company’s business, and 70% of that time consists of informal meetings and conversations. Four to five days a month obviously give a board member much greater understanding and impact than the three days a quarter (of which two may be spent in transit) devoted by the typical board member of a public company.

Boards also need much more relevant experience. Industry knowledge—which four of five nonexecutive directors of big companies lack—helps boards identify immediate opportunities and reduce risk. Contextual knowledge about the development path of an industry—for example, whether the industry is facing consolidation, disruption from new technologies, or increased regulation—is highly valuable, too. Such insight is often obtained from experience with other industries that have undergone a similar evolution.

In addition, boards need more-effective committee structures—obtainable through, for example, the establishment of a strategy committee or of dedicated committees for large business units. Directors also need the resources to allow them to form independent views on strategy, risk, and performance (perhaps by having a small analytical staff that reports only to them). This agenda implies a certain professionalization of nonexecutive directorships and a more meaningful strategic partnership between boards and top management. It may not please some executive teams accustomed to boards they can easily “manage.” But given the failures of governance to date, it is a necessary change.

More-sensible CEO pay.

An important task of governance is setting executive compensation. Although 70% of board directors say that pay should be tied more closely to performance, CEO pay is too often structured to reward a leader simply for having made it to the top, not for what he or she does once there. Meanwhile, polls show that the disconnect between pay and performance is contributing to the decline in public esteem for business.

Companies should create real risk for executives.Some experts privately suggest mandating that new executives invest a year’s salary in the company.

CEOs and other executives should be paid to act like owners. Once upon a time we thought that stock options would achieve this result, but stock-option- based compensation schemes have largely incentivized the wrong behavior. When short-dated, options lead to a focus on meeting quarterly earnings estimates; even when long-dated (those that vest after three years or more), they can reward managers for simply surfing industry- or economy-wide trends (although reviewing performance against an appropriate peer index can help minimize free rides). Moreover, few compensation schemes carry consequences for failure—something that became clear during the financial crisis, when many of the leaders of failed institutions retired as wealthy people.

There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to this complex issue, but companies should push for change in three key areas:

• They should link compensation to the fundamental drivers of long-term value, such as innovation and efficiency, not just to share price.

• They should extend the time frame for executive evaluations—for example, using rolling three-year performance evaluations, or requiring five-year plans and tracking performance relative to plan. This would, of course, require an effective board that is engaged in strategy formation.

• They should create real downside risk for executives, perhaps by requiring them to put some skin in the game. Some experts we’ve surveyed have privately suggested mandating that new executives invest a year’s salary in the company.

Redefined shareholder “democracy.”

The huge increase in equity churn in recent decades has spawned an anomaly of governance: At any annual meeting, a large number of those voting may soon no longer be shareholders. The advent of high-frequency trading will only worsen this trend. High churn rates, short holding periods, and vote-buying practices may mean the demise of the “one share, one vote” principle of governance, at least in some circumstances. Indeed, many large, top-performing companies, such as Google, have never adhered to it. Maybe it’s time for new rules that would give greater weight to long-term owners, like the rule in some French companies that gives two votes to shares held longer than a year. Or maybe it would make sense to assign voting rights based on the average turnover of an investor’s portfolio. If we want capitalism to focus on the long term, updating our notions of shareholder democracy in such ways will soon seem less like heresy and more like common sense.

While I remain convinced that capitalism is the economic system best suited to advancing the human condition, I’m equally persuaded that it must be renewed, both to deal with the stresses and volatility ahead and to restore business’s standing as a force for good, worthy of the public’s trust. The deficiencies of the quarterly capitalism of the past few decades were not deficiencies in capitalism itself—just in that particular variant. By rebuilding capitalism for the long term, we can make it stronger, more resilient, more equitable, and better able to deliver the sustainable growth the world needs. The three imperatives outlined above can be a start along this path and, I hope, a way to launch the conversation; others will have their own ideas to add.

The kind of deep-seated, systemic changes I’m calling for can be achieved only if boards, business executives, and investors around the world take responsibility for bettering the system they lead. Such changes will not be easy; they are bound to encounter resistance, and business leaders today have more than enough to do just to keep their companies running well. We must make the effort regardless. If capitalism emerges from the crisis vibrant and renewed, future generations will thank us. But if we merely paper over the cracks and return to our precrisis views, we will not want to read what the historians of the future will write. The time to reflect—and to act—is now.


Please see my other related posts.

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Jean-Hugues Monier – Senior Parter – McKinsey & Company

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Currency Credit Networks of International Banks

Currency Credit Networks of International Banks

During the Global Financial Crisis, institutions which were monitoring and regulating Banking systems realized that there are gaps in data to get a better understanding of cross border lending by Banks.

Bank of International Settlement BIS collects and publishes following datasets:

  • Consolidated Banking Statistics (CBS)
  • Locational Banking Statistics (LBS)


From US Banks’ International Balance Sheet Linkages: A Data Survey

International financial linkages are mostly established through banks’ lending and borrowing across the borders. Still, very little is known on the actual geographical composition of banks’ foreign balance sheet positions due to the fact that existing bilateral banking statistics is rather incomplete and scant both at the aggregate and micro level ( (Cerutti, et al., 2011); (Fender & Patrick, 2009); (McGuire & von Peter, 2009)). At the micro level, in particular, bilateral positions of banks by location of counterparty are neither collected by the regulator nor available from commercial databases (Herrero & Martinez Peira, 2007).

At the macro level, the Consolidated Banking Statistics (CBS) published by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) is the most complete data source publicly available on aggregate bilateral claims of banks, available on a comparable cross-country basis and collected according to the nationality principle1. The CBS is best suited to assess country risk, as it reports gross claims of home and worldwide offices reported by national banks to individual foreign countries.

The consolidation within the CBS, however, does not allow to quantify gross cross-border bilateral positions that banks have vis-à-vis their foreign affiliates. Important direct linkages can, indeed, arise through cross-border positions with banks’ foreign-related entities, such as branches or subsidiaries, especially in those countries, such as the US, where foreign-related offices are the largest foreign counterparties of domestic banks.

Moreover, bilateral banking liabilities are not publicly available within the CBS preventing the assessment of other important macro risks arising from international banking activity, most notably funding and global systemic risks. The Committee on the Global Financial System (CGFS) at the the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has recently announced that the latter limitation is being tackled in the new reporting regime in which banks must disclose also bilateral liabilities a consolidated basis with details of the instrument type (CGFS, 2012). The BIS also collects unconsolidated positions (i.e. both assets and liabilities) of banks located in a given country on all foreigners in the Locational Banking Statistics (LBS), in which bilateral positions are not publicly disclosed2. For the US, however, bilateral foreign unconsolidated banking assets and liabilities are available from the Treasury International Capital System (TICS)3. Coherent to the balance of payment residency principle, the reporting institutions are branches of foreign banks residing in the US which report their positions vis-à-vis all foreigners by foreign country, including related-offices.

Residency-based statistics is ill-suited to assess bi-lateral linkages of US banks as confounding resident foreign and domestic banks does not allow to disentangle the different lending conducts and funding structures4. Also, the foreign counterparty includes foreign branches and subsidiaries of domestic banks as well as parents, branches and subsidiaries of foreign banks resident in the US, hindering a full understanding of the geography of banks’ funding, liquidity and capital allocation.

The aim of this paper is to review all the available data at the macro level in order to both draw a map of the bilateral international balance sheet positions of US banks by counterparty country and stress the data limitations and gaps. Firstly, this paper presents an extensive survey of all available bilateral macro data on international linkages created by US banks’ balance sheets. This investigation details the components and measurements (consolidated vs. unconsolidated data collection) of external positions of US banks. The survey is mainly based on the statistics provided by the Country Exposure Lending Survey (CELS) published by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), upon which the BIS CBS for the US is based, and the US Banking claims and liabilities statistics published by the Treasury International Capital System (TICS). The second part of the paper discusses how data gaps might distort the measurement of important bilateral linkages and suggests how these limitations might be tackled by future research.

In the literature can be found a few papers that bring together existing available datasets to evaluate bi-lateral financial linkages, such as the works by (Lane & Milesi-Ferretti, 2011), (Milesi- Ferretti, et al., 2010) and (Cerutti, 2013). The latter study, in particular, estimates the linkages created by banks’ balance sheet by combining BIS CBS with foreign office data available commercially at the micro-level with the intent of measuring foreign rollover risks.

In this paper it is stressed that consolidated and unconsolidated banking statistics should both include a vis-à-vis country dimension, other than a sectoral and instrument-type segmentation. Moreover, statistics should be segmented enough to allow mapping unconsolidated to consolidated data. In particular, consolidated banking statistics should differentiate claims booked from domestic offices to those from branches and subsidiaries, possibly by host country. Unconsolidated statistics, should disentangle positions booked from domestic banks and foreign banks and vis-à-vis related- offices, possibly identifying the nationality foreign banks. While the statistics enhancements of the CGFS are definitely going towards this direction, this paper suggests that more detailed information should be collected on the funding structure of foreign-related offices, disentangling, when possible, branches by subsidiaries by host country.


An overview of bi-lateral foreign exposure of US banks

The linkages created by banks via their international balance sheet positions can be assessed on either a consolidated or unconsolidated basis.

The BIS provides the framework to collect international banking claims on a consolidated basis. The Consolidated Banking Statistics (CBS) provides very useful scope for assessing country risk as its concern is to measure the exposure of the banking sector of a given country i on a foreign country j on a nationality basis: banks are grouped according to their nationality so that all branches of banks with nationality i located worldwide report their positions vis-à-vis the residents of a given country j. Total foreign exposure, namely foreign claims, of the banking sector in i on country j is obtained by summing the consolidated cross-border claims on unaffiliated foreigners in j and local claims of foreign offices established in j. The BIS publishes bilateral foreign claims for the reporting county vis-à-vis the rest of the world by country of location of the counterparty on a quarterly basis. For the US case, more detailed data is available from the Country Exposure Lending Survey (CELS) published by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), upon which the BIS CBS for the US is based.

Banks’ foreign exposure evaluated on an unconsolidated (or locational) basis, on the other hand, complies with the balance of payments principles. Banks are grouped according to their residency so that in a given country i the reporting banks are all those institutions operating in i, including the resident branches of foreign banks. Total foreign exposure is here calculated by measuring unconsolidated cross-border claims only, i.e. claims on all those counterparties which are not domestically located, including related offices. The BIS collects quarterly statistics on unconsolidated banking assets and liabilities, that is, the Locational Banking Statistics (LBS), for a large set of reporting countries, reporting positions broken down by currency, counterparty sector and nationality of banks. Although the BIS collects unconsolidated banking statistics by country of location of the counterparty (i.e. vis-à-vis country dimension), this information is not publicly disclosed hindering a geographical mapping of the counterparties of reporting banks. For the case of US, however, this bilateral assets and liabilities of banks on an unconsolidated basis are published by the US Treasury within the Treasury International Capital System (TICS), upon which the BIS LBS for the US is based.


Data Gaps identified during the GFC have been corrected to some extent.  New improved data sets became available in 2015.  Based on this new data, several new papers have been published by BIS.


From Enhanced data to analyse international banking

Banks have become larger and more complex over the past 25 years, offering multiple services and products through operations spanning the globe. Some rely heavily on wholesale or non-deposit sources of funding, often from non-bank financial intermediaries about whom information is sparse. Such changes in the international financial system were not well captured in historical data (BIS (2011)). This made it hard to analyse where, in which instruments and on which side of banks’ balance sheets vulnerabilities might emerge, and harder still to assess how vulnerabilities in one part of the financial system might affect other parts. In 2012, the Committee on the Global Financial System (CGFS), which oversees the collection of the BIS international banking statistics (IBS), approved a major set of enhancements to the IBS aimed at filling long-standing data gaps and better capturing the new financial landscape (CGFS (2012)). To a large extent, the enhancements were informed by the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09, which revealed critical gaps in the information available to monitor and respond to financial stability risks.2 The basic thrust of the enhancements is twofold. First, they expand the coverage of banks’ balance sheets to include their domestic positions, not just their international activities. Second, they provide more information about the sector of banks’ counterparties, in particular banks’ exposures to and reliance on funding from non-bank financial counterparties. The remainder of this feature explains the enhancements in more detail and discusses a few analytical uses of the new data.


Overview of the enhancements

The IBS comprise two data sets – the locational banking statistics (LBS) and the consolidated banking statistics (CBS) – each collected using a different methodology. Jointly, they are a key source of information for assessing risks to financial stability, understanding banks’ role in the transmission of shocks across borders, and monitoring changes in internationally active banks’ business models. The principal use of the LBS is to analyse capital flows between countries. They capture the positions of banking offices located in 44 reporting countries on counterparties resident in each of over 200 countries. The LBS are collected following the same principles as national accounts and balance of payments, meaning that their compilation is based on the residence of entities and the data are not adjusted for intragroup or intrasector links. The CBS provide measures of internationally active banks’ country risk exposures. In contrast to the LBS, the CBS are compiled on a nationality basis, using the consolidated approach followed by banking supervisors. The business of offices that are part of the same banking group is consolidated and reported by the country where the controlling parent entity is located.3 Table 1 summarises the breakdowns reported in each data set, and a companion piece in this Review describes the LBS and CBS in more detail. The enhancements approved by the CGFS focused on five areas. First, in both the LBS and the CBS, the coverage of banks’ balance sheets was extended to domestic positions; previously, the data sets captured only banks’ international business. In the LBS, banks are now asked to report their local positions – positions against residents of the country where they are located – in local currency, to complement the existing data on local positions in foreign currencies.4 In the CBS, since end-2013, internationally active banks have reported their worldwide consolidated claims on residents of their home country – the country where the bank’s controlling parent is headquartered. Second, in the CBS, data for the funding side of banks’ consolidated balance sheets were introduced. Previously, very little liability-related information was collected in the CBS: only the local liabilities of banks’ foreign affiliates, and only those denominated in local currency. Since end-2013, banks have reported their total liabilities on a consolidated basis, with a breakdown by instrument.5 They also report their total equity, selected capital measures, and total assets (comprising financial and non-financial assets).

Third, in both the LBS and the CBS, the sectoral breakdown of counterparties was improved. The main improvement was to distinguish between non-bank financial counterparties and non-financial counterparties; previously, the two sectors were grouped together as non-bank entities.6 Banks are also asked to distinguish between different non-financial counterparties: non-financial corporations, households and governments. However, the reporting of the latter breakdown is encouraged, not required, and thus is incomplete (as discussed below). In the LBS, the breakdown of counterparties classified as banks was also improved. Since end- 2013, banks have reported different types of bank counterparties – related banking offices (or intragroup affiliates), unrelated banks and central banks – by residence of the counterparty.7 Fourth, the LBS were refined to provide more granular information by nationality of the reporting bank. In particular, since end-June 2012, four dimensions of data have been jointly reported: the residence and nationality of the reporting bank, the residence of the counterparty, and the currency in which positions are denominated. Previously, no more than three of the four dimensions were jointly reported in either the CBS or LBS (Table 2). Box 1 explains how these new data help clarify the geography of banks’ operations. The more granular information by nationality of the reporting bank is often composed of data reported by very few banks. For example, there are many banks in the United Kingdom that have claims on South Africa, and there are several Australian banks that have offices in the United Kingdom, but there may be only one or two Australian banks in the United Kingdom that have claims on South Africa. If an aggregate comprises data from only one or two banks, then its disclosure risks revealing proprietary information about those banks’ activities. Consequently, reporting authorities classify a significant part of the enhanced data that they report to the BIS as confidential. Such data cannot be disclosed by the BIS, but they can serve as building blocks in the construction of published aggregates that combine data from many reporting countries. While the enhancements made the residence and nationality of reporting banks and the residence of counterparties available simultaneously in the LBS, they did not make the distinction between data by residence and nationality redundant. In particular, the instrument breakdown – loans and deposits, debt securities and other instruments – continues to be reported only for LBS by residence (Table 2). The enhancements also refined the IBS in a number of smaller ways. Banks reporting the LBS are now encouraged to provide an expanded currency breakdown. To complement the LBS by nationality of reporting bank, data by type of bank – branch or subsidiary – are also reported, although without a detailed counterparty country breakdown of cross-border positions. In addition, the quality of the data was improved through closer alignment of reporting practices with the guidelines. For example, authorities in some reporting countries refined sectoral or other classifications. Such methodological changes have sometimes led to significant changes in reported outstanding positions. Finally, the BIS comprehensively revised the tables presenting the IBS so as to include data collected as part of the enhancements (Box 2). The enhancements also prompted the BIS to revisit the way in which some aggregates are calculated or presented, resulting in changes to previously published data (Box 3).


From Enhanced data to analyse international banking



From Enhanced data to analyse international banking



From Enhanced data to analyse international banking



From Recent enhancements to the BIS statistics

Locational banking statistics by reporting country

One of the enhancements to the international banking statistics (IBS) agreed by the Committee on the Global Financial System following the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09 was to make the IBS more widely available (CGFS (2012)). The new tables and data published by the BIS in September 2015 were an important step in that direction (Avdjiev et al (2015)). The BIS and central banks continue to work towards publishing more data and improving the tools for accessing them.

Concurrently with this Quarterly Review, the BIS has started publishing more details at the reporting country level from the locational banking statistics (LBS), in particular the claims and liabilities of banks in individual reporting countries on counterparties in more than 200 countries. Previously, the BIS had made public only two types of aggregates in the LBS: the positions of banks in all reporting countries on counterparties in individual countries (Table A6 in the BIS Statistical Bulletin and the BIS Statistics Explorer), and the positions of banks in individual reporting countries on all counterparties abroad (Table A5). The BIS now discloses a matrix of reporting countries and counterparty countries, for the full history of the LBS. For example, whereas previously only the cross-border claims of all LBS-reporting banks on borrowers in China were published, now the location of those reporting banks is also disclosed. This information shows that, at end-March 2016, banks in Hong Kong SAR were the main creditors, accounting for 42% of cross-border claims on China’s mainland borrowers, followed by banks in Chinese Taipei with 9%.

Such geographical details can be used to analyse how shocks might propagate across sectors and borders. For example, they can help track how funds are transferred from sources in one country via banks to users in another. They can also shed light on the complexity of banks’ international operations.

When undertaking such analysis, it is very important to distinguish between the unconsolidated office-level view in the LBS and the consolidated group-level view in the consolidated banking statistics (CBS). The LBS capture the positions of banking offices located in a given country, following the same residency principles as national accounts and balance of payments. By contrast, the CBS capture the worldwide positions of banking groups headquartered in that country, using the consolidated approach followed by banking supervisors. Accordingly, the principal use of the LBS is to analyse capital flows between countries, whereas the CBS provide measures of banks’ country risk exposures.3

The published matrix of reporting countries and counterparty countries covers the cross-border positions of banks located in up to 29 LBS-reporting countries on counterparties in more than 200 countries. As many as eight series are publicly available in the LBS for each reporting-counterparty country pair: total claims and liabilities on counterparties in all sectors and the non-bank sector, and the same details for the instrument component loans and deposits. Selected series are published in Table A6 of the BIS Statistical Bulletin, and all the data can be downloaded from the BIS Statistics Explorer, the BIS Statistics Warehouse or in a single CSV file. A matrix of reporting countries and counterparty countries is also published for the CBS, in Table B4 of the BIS Statistical Bulletin.


Table below shows stock positions in different currencies by location and by sector.

From Currency networks in cross-border bank lending



From Currency networks in cross-border bank lending

At end-2014, the outstanding stock of BIS IBS cross-border bank claims totalled $28.5 trillion. Using the new dimensions in the Stage 1 data, we can simultaneously identify the nationality of the lending bank and the location of the borrower for 92% ($26.2 trillion) of the global total. Nearly three quarters ($19.3 trillion) of the bilaterally-identified claims represented lending by banks from advanced economies (AEs) to borrowers in AEs (Table 2). The second largest component of global crossborder bank lending was the one from AE banks to offshore centres – it stood at $3.5 trillion (or 13% of the global aggregate). “AE-to-EME” lending (ie lending by AE banks to EME borrowers) was also substantial – it amounted to $2.3 trillion (or 9% of global cross-border lending). Meanwhile, cross-border lending by EME banks, which has been growing rapidly over the past few years, stood at $1.1 trillion or around 4% of global cross-border claims. It was fairly evenly distributed among borrowers from AEs ($395 billion), EMEs ($351 billion) and offshore centres ($205 billion).

Currency networks

More than three-quarters of global cross-border claims were accounted for by lending in two major currencies: the US dollar and the euro. Claims denominated in US dollars alone equalled $13.0 trillion, or 45% of the global total. Meanwhile, crossborder lending denominated in euros stood at $9.0 trillion, or 31% of the global aggregate. The third largest currency denomination, the Japanese yen accounts for only around 5% of the global total. At the aggregate level, the above currency shares are remarkably stable across counterparty sectors (Table 3). The US dollar shares of global cross-border lending to banks (46%) and non-banks (45%) are virtually the same. The same is true for the respective euro shares, with both at 31%. In the case of yen, the difference is more pronounced: cross-border lending to non-banks (6.4%) is almost twice as high as interbank lending (3.6%).

The variation in the currency composition of cross-border lending across locations is considerably larger (Table 3). In terms of lending to advanced economies, the US dollar and euro shares are roughly equal at 41% and 39%, respectively. Approximately half of US dollar-denominated bank lending to advanced economies is accounted for by cross-border claims on residents of the United States ($4.1 trillion). Similarly, the majority ($5.7 trillion) of euro-denominated cross-border bank lending is directed towards borrowers in the euro area – and most ($3.8 trillion) of that amount represents intra-euro area cross-border claims. Outside the United States and the euro area, the US dollar and the euro still dominate lending to advanced economies, albeit with somewhat smaller shares (36% and 25%, respectively).

Lending to EMEs tends to be primarily denominated in US dollars as well. The proportion of cross-border claims on EMEs denominated in US dollars (47%) is more than four times higher than that of the euro (11%). Nevertheless, the aggregate EME numbers mask considerable variations across regions. The US dollar accounts for the majority of the claims on Latin America and on Africa and the Middle East (73% and 61%, respectively). Yet, it accounts for less than half (41%) of the lending to emerging Asia and less than a third (30%) of the lending to emerging Europe. In fact, emerging Europe is the only EME region where the euro is the leading currency with around 41% of all claims. The share of yen is negligible at around 1% of lending to all four EME regions.

The dominance of the US dollar is most pronounced in cross-border claims on offshore centres with a share of nearly two thirds (63%) of the total. Conversely, the respective share for the Japanese yen is merely 11%. The share of the euro is even smaller at 8%.


From Drivers of cross-border banking since the Global Crisis

Since the Global Crisis, international credit markets have become more segmented. Figure 1 illustrates the development of cross-border bank claims over the last years; after a continuous and steep increase, the Crisis has led to a retrenchment in cross-border bank lending. Yet, international lending has evolved heterogeneously across regions. While cross-border lending to developing and emerging economies has increased again, foreign bank claims to developed countries have rather continued to decrease.

Even if part of the retrenchment in cross-border bank claims was cyclical, part of the adjustment seems to be structural as the economic recovery did not go along with a notable increase in total foreign bank claims.

What role do policy changes play for adjustments in cross-border bank claims?

The adjustments in international bank lending have led to a debate on how recent policy interventions have affected international capital flows in the aftermath of the crisis.

  • On the one hand, different observers stress the role of changes in financial regulation for the international activities of banks.

After the experiences of the recent Crisis, national regulators may aim at a lower degree of banking globalisation to facilitate the resolution of large, internationally active banks, and hence to better protect taxpayers from potential losses (The Economist 2012). Using bank-level data for the UK banking sector, Rose and Wieladek (2011) have analysed the implications of bank nationalisations for international lending. They present evidence that foreign banks that profited from government support have cut back their lending to the UK. Thus, part of the retrenchment in international bank lending may be due to increased financial protectionism since the crisis.

  • On the other hand, the effects of monetary policy on capital flows – especially to emerging markets – have been intensely debated.

Among others, Bernanke (2013) has pointed out that in an environment of low interest rates, banks may tend to lean their foreign activities towards higher-yielding markets. Nier and Saadi Sedik (2014) point out that managing the large and volatile capital inflows since the Crisis has been costly for emerging markets.

In a recent study (Bremus and Fratzscher 2014), we add to this debate by investigating the effects of policy-related drivers of changes in cross-border bank lending since the Global Crisis.

  • The first question we address is how shifts in banking regulations have affected international bank lending in the wake of the Crisis.

As illustrated by Figure 2, bank capital regulation has, on average, become stricter since the Crisis. In general, tighter regulatory requirements may have different implications for banks’ international lending business. An increase in capital requirements in the source country of cross-border credit may lead to a reduction in credit outflows if banks cut back risky foreign lending activities in order to deleverage. However, stricter regulations in the source country could also lead to an increase in foreign lending activities to countries where regulation is more lenient. Using data from the pre-crisis period, Houston et al. (2012) indeed find that differences in banking regulation are important push and pull factors of cross-border bank lending; banks are attracted by countries with a less restrictive regulatory environment.

In order to study policy-related drivers of changes in international lending between the pre- and the post-Crisis period, we use bilateral credit data for 46 countries from the Bank for International Settlements for the period 2005-2012.[1] Information on capital stringency, supervisory power, and supervisory independence is available from Barth et al. (2013). Following the literature, the years until 2007 can be classified as the ‘pre-crisis’ period, while the years as of 2010 are classified as the ‘post-crisis’ phase. We use a cross-sectional regression model where all variables are expressed as the change between the average across 2005-2007 and the average across 2010-2012.

  • Our results indicate that regulatory policy has been an important driver of adjustments in cross-border banking since the Global Crisis.

Source countries of bilateral credit which have seen a larger increase in supervisory power or independence have extended more cross-border credit. Put differently, the more independent or powerful supervisors got, the less severe was the reduction in cross-border credit in the aftermath of the Crisis. Another interpretation for this result is that stricter regulation in the source country has led to more cross-border lending due to regulatory arbitrage.

With respect to bank capital regulation, the estimation results are similar when the whole country sample is considered. Yet, the larger the differential in capital stringency between the source and the recipient country of cross-border credit in the Eurozone got, the lower the increase (or the larger the reduction) in cross-border lending between these countries.

  • In a second part, we examine which role expansionary monetary policy – as measured by reserve deposits of commercial banks held at central banks – has played for bilateral cross-border lending.

Aggregate reserves at central banks reflect the size of monetary policy interventions (Keister and McAndrews 2009). The more accommodative monetary policy has been since the Crisis, the larger was the increase in total reserves. The estimation results reveal that a larger expansion in source countries’ reserve deposits have come along with smaller reductions (or, larger increases) in credit outflows. Hence, the findings suggest that monetary policy has mitigated credit market fragmentation in the aftermath of the Global Crisis.

Concluding remarks

Our results show that regulatory and monetary policy changes have been important drivers of adjustments in cross-border bank lending since the crisis. While expansionary monetary policy measures have mitigated credit market fragmentation, regulatory policy changes have had mixed effects, depending on the measure and region considered.

More independent and powerful supervisory authorities tend to promote international lending. Our findings indicate that capital regulation should be adjusted in a harmonised and transparent way in order to avoid distortionary lending behaviour, especially in the Eurozone.


From The currency dimension of the bank lending channel in international monetary transmission

In this paper, we add to the existing literature on the cross-border bank lending channel of monetary policy by examining how the use of a currency in cross-border lending transmits monetary policy-induced monetary shocks across countries. We do so by using new and unique data on bilateral cross-border lending flows across a wide array of source banking systems and target countries, broken down by currency denomination (USD, EUR and JPY).

We obtain three main results.

First, monetary policy-induced monetary shocks in a currency significantly affect cross-border bank lending flows in that currency, even when neither the lending banking system nor the borrowing country uses that currency as their own. This is what we call the currency dimension of the bank lending channel.

Second, we find that this currency dimension of the bank lending channel works primarily through lending to non-banks.

Third, we find that these currency effects work similarly across the three main currencies, that is, the transmission effects are present in EUR and JPY-lending as much as in USD-lending. All these results are robust across our various specifications, including IV estimations.26

We hope that our results will help policymakers and researchers gain further insight into how the global use of currencies transmits monetary policy shocks through the international banking system. In particular, our results suggest that when policymakers in borrowing countries think about external spillovers to their economies they should explicitly consider the currency denomination of the cross-border claims.




KeySources of Research:


Estimating Global Bank Network Connectedness

Mert Demirer Laura Liu

.Francis X. Diebold Kamil Ylmaz







A network analysis of global banking: 1978–2009

Camelia Minoiu and Javier A. Reyes






Global Banks and Transmission





Crisis Transmission in the Global Banking Network

Galina Hale

Tu ̈mer Kapan

Camelia Minoiu

December 31, 2014





Currency networks in cross-border bank lending

Stefan Avdjiev and Előd Takáts

September 2015




Monetary policy spillovers and currency networks in cross-border bank lending

by Stefan Avdjiev and Előd Takáts

March 2016













Correspondence course: Charting a future for US-dollar clearing and correspondent banking through analytics






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July 2016





The Withdrawal of Correspondent Banking Relationships: A Case for Policy Action

Michaela Erbenová, Yan Liu, Nadim Kyriakos-Saad, Alejandro López-Mejía, Giancarlo Gasha, Emmanuel Mathias, Mohamed Norat, Francisca Fernando, and Yasmin Almeida






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End-2016 progress report and next steps


19 December 2016





Improving the BIS international banking statistics




Enhancements to the BIS international banking statistics

Stefan Avdjiev, Patrick McGuire and Philip Wooldridge





Enhanced data to analyse international banking

Stefan Avdjiev Patrick McGuire Philip Wooldridge







Recent enhancements to the BIS statistics

BIS Quarterly Bulletin September 2016





Enhancements to the International Banking Statistics

By John Lowes and David Osborn






Toward a global risk map

Stephen G Cecchetti, Ingo Fender and Patrick McGuire1

Revised Draft May 2010





Bilateral Financial Linkages and Global Imbalances: a View on the Eve of the Financial Crisis

Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti

Francesco Strobbe

Natalia Tamirisa

This Draft: May 13, 2011





Cross-border financial linkages: Identifying and measuring vulnerabilities




Global banks turning more local: Improved host countries’ financial stability

Gaston Gelos, Frederic Lambert

17 May 2015




Drivers of cross-border banking since the Global Crisis

Franziska Bremus, Marcel Fratzscher

28 January 2015




Systemic Risks in Global Banking What Available Data Can Tell Us and What More Data Are Needed?

Eugenio Cerutti, Stijn Claessens, and Patrick McGuire





US Banks’ International Balance Sheet Linkages: A Data Survey

Carmela D’Avino






G20 Agenda towards a More Stable and Resilient International Financial Architecture






Cross-Border Interbank Networks, Banking Risk and Contagion

Lena Tonzer






Developments in a Cross-Border Bank Exposure “Network”

Masazumi Hattori

Yuko Suda






Systemic Risks in Global Banking: What Available Data Can Tell Us and What More Data are Needed?

By Eugenio Cerutti, Stijn Claessens and Patrick McGuire

April 18, 2012





Globalisation and Financial Stability Risks: Is the Residency-Based Approach of the National Accounts Old-Fashioned?

Bruno Tissot





The currency dimension of the bank lending channel in international monetary transmission

Elod Takats and Judit Temesvary






Banks and Cross-Border Capital Flows: Policy Challenges and Regulatory Responses

Committee on International Economic Policy and Reform




How the interactions of monetary and regulatory policies may have been ahead of the anti-globalisation backlash
Kristin Forbes, Dennis Reinhardt, Tomasz Wieladek

23 December 2016




European bank deleveraging and global credit conditions
Erik Feyen, Ines Gonzalez del Mazo

12 May 2013