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Fed: A stable financial system continues to meet the demands

A stable financial system, when hit by adverse events, or “shocks,” continues to meet the demands of households and businesses for financial services, such as credit provision and payment services, said in the Financial Stability Report, released by the Federal Reserve (Fed) on Friday.

NEWS IN ENGLISH 07.05.2021, 15:12
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Fed: A stable financial system continues to meet the demands

In contrast, in an unstable system, these same shocks are likely to have much larger effects, disrupting the flow of credit and leading to declines in employment and economic activity. Cosistent with this view of financial stability, the Federal Reserve Board’s monitoring framework distinguishes between shocks to and vulnerabilities of the financial system.

Shocks, such as sudden changes to financial or economic conditions, are typically surprises and are inherently difficult to predict. 

Vulnerabilities tend to build up over time and are the aspects of the financial system that are most expected to cause widespread problems in times of stress. As a result, the framework focuses primarily on monitoring vulnerabilities and emphasizes four broad categories based on research.

1. Elevated valuation pressures are signalled by asset prices that are high relative to economic fundamentals or historical norms and are often driven by an increased willingness of investors to take on risk. As such, elevated valuation pressures imply a greater possibility of outsized drops in asset prices.

2. Excessive borrowing by businesses and households leaves them vulnerable to distress if their incomes decline or the assets they own fall in value. In the event of such shocks, business and households with high debt burdens may need to cut back spending sharply, affecting the overall level of economic activity. Moreover, when businesses and households cannot make payments on their loans, financial institutions and investors incur losses.

3. Excessive leverage within the financial sector increases the risk that financial institutions will not have the ability to absorb even modest losses when hit by adverse shocks. In those situations, institutions will be forced to cut back lending, sell their assets, or, in extreme cases, shut down. Such responses can substantially impair credit access for households and businesses.

4. Funding risks expose the financial system to the possibility that investors will “run” by withdrawing their funds from a particular institution or sector. Many financial institutions raise funds from the public with a commitment to return their investors’ money on short notice, but those institutions then invest much of the funds in illiquid assets that are hard to sell quickly or in assets that have a long maturity. This liquidity and maturity transformation can create an incentive for investors to withdraw funds quickly in adverse situations. Facing a run, financial institutions may need to sell assets quickly at “fire sale” prices, thereby incurring substantial losses and potentially even becoming insolvent. Historians and economists often refer to widespread investor runs as “financial panics.”
 

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