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Don’t stress the stress test

In this week’s P4Capital discussion, the executive team talks about something most of us try to forget – the great recession of 2008.

The news isn’t bad though; for the first time since they were invoked, all American banks have passed the Stress Test.

The P4Capital team investigates what this means, and how it will protect the world economy should the worst come to pass again.

Stay tuned.

 

Transcript


Amanda: Do you remember the recession of 2008? When the banks all caused the world economy to crumble? When  jobs evaporated like shallow water and dollar values plummeted worldwide? Well, the banks certainly do, and to make sure the Great Recession doesn’t happen again, they introduced a series of stress tests. And for the first time, in 2015 all the American banks have passed.

Jim: This week’s topic is about the American banks passing stress tests, and the significance to not only the North American economy, but the global economy as well.

Jeremy: For those of you that don’t know what a stress test is, the top 30 or so US banks have all agreed to undergo stress testing, in which they will look at different factors and variables and examine how these would affect their capital reserves, and their ability to do business. So for example they might look at what would happen if unemployment was to rise by 2%, inflation were to rise by 3% and interest rates were to be cut by  .5%.

Archana: Just backtracking a bit here, the stress tests were essentially introduced after the financial meltdown of 2008, and it’s seen as a huge step in boosting consumer confidence in the US financial system.  In 2008, we all know how that story played out; the banks had to be bailed out, the government essentially funding about 700 billion to bail out the biggest lenders in the US.

Shaheerah: The whole purpose of these tests is to ensure that the banks will have enough capital, and they will be able to continue to lend to businesses and households even in a very dark economic recession. These stress tests focus on some important risks, and those risks are credit risk, market risk and liquidity risk.

Jim: The interesting part, now the US Greenback is soaring  out there and the banks that support the US dollar are now passed all the latest stress tests, is that it looks like the US economy is now back on extremely firm foundation and footing, and will be the engine that drives the global economy. We haven’t seen that in a while. The argument can be at least 7 years, some argue all the way back to 2000.

Jeremy: It’s actually the sixth year anniversary today of the low of the S&P 500. It’s up over 200% over the past six years, so it’s been one heck of a bull market.

Amanda: The date we are recording this is March 9, 2015 for our listeners who are tuning in at a later date. What does this mean for the Canadian economy?

Shaheerah: Yes, so now bringing that discussion back to Canada, Canadian banks are ranked the world’s soundest for seven straight years by the world economic form. Canadian banks are actually outperforming the US banks even in the midst of the dropping oil prices, and part of the reason is we have fewer regulations and less competition than the banks of the US. And both TD and BMO, among other banks are also expanding in the US because the US will see more economic growth than Canada over the next two years.

Jim: Therefore, expansion equals more jobs and more overall health to the Canadian economy which has in fact had a phenomenal bull run itself for almost a decade, with the exception of that mid, let’s call it September 2008 to September 2009 period, which is very good news indeed. The interesting part was the measurement of risk as well, and watching how the different financial institutions are now responding by getting rid of their archaic technologies and moving into faster engines which are allowing them to monitor risk with more clarity and make better decisions going forward.

Jeremy: Also, if banks in the US don’t pass their stress testd then sanctions can be placed on them such as what happened with Citibank. I believe it was last year they failed some of the stress tests so they weren’t able to have any share buybacks or authorize any dividend increases. They did pass them sufficiently enough so they didn’t have to cut dividends though. Not coincidently there is a new CEO implemented there.

Jim: Yeah, no kidding! How many of the competent Citi people fled to get to financial institutions that would pay them appropriate bonuses and how many should have got fired?

Jeremy: True. Goldman actually didn’t do as well as expected on these tests, so their share price was down 1.7% the day the tests were released, largely as investors are concerned that the similar sanctions may be in the future for Goldman Sachs.

Jim: Well, considering the US government is one of the largest borrowers on the planet, and they’re only going to borrow money from their financial institutions that pass their rules-

Jeremy: and China!

Jim: -And China, yeah! I think it’s very important that these FI’s that are on the line get up to speed.

Archana: Incidentally, this is apparently the first year since the Dodd-Frank act stress test, or as it’s called DFast,  that all the 31 US banks actually passed the test. Citigroup actually flunked the test last year and the CEO actually went on record saying that he is quite intent getting the books in order, or otherwise his job is on the line. And apparently they did well this year. Again, this DFast is apparently round one of the new stress test measures that the government has introduced. Part two is to be unveiled this week, which is primarily concerned with whether the Fed will announce whether the capital plans of these big banks are going to be accepted or rejected in terms of their share buyback and dividends. So it’s not exactly clear whether all 31 banks will go through – that remains to be seen.

Jim: Could be a lot of nervous executives wondering if they can get their bonuses paid or not!

 


That was the P4Capital team discussing the Stress Test, and how it will protect the economy going forward. Want to know more? Check out our website  and previous posts at www.planet4it.com or follow us @p4capital. Thanks and see you next time.

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