Tag Archives: Bank of America

Bank Of America Calls It: “The Peak In Home Sales Has Been Reached; Housing No Longer A Tailwind”

Bank of America is ringing the proverbial bell on the US real estate market, saying existing home sales have peaked, reflecting declining affordability, greater price reductions and deteriorating housing sentiment. In the latest weekly report from chief economist Michelle Meyer, the bank warned that “the housing market is no longer a tailwind for the economy but rather a headwind.”

“Call your realtor,” the BofA note proclaimed: “We are calling it: existing home sales have peaked.”

BofA’s economists believe the peak was seen when existing home sales hit 5.72 million, back in November 2017. From this point on, sales should trend sideways, as this moment in time is comparable to the rate the economy witnessed in the early 2000s before the bubble inflated.

And while BofA believes existing home sales have plateaued, they do not think the same for new home sales. The reason: new home sales have lagged existing in this “economic recovery” – leaving home builders some room to flood the market with new single-family units before a turning point in the entire real estate market is realized.

The deterioration in affordability can mostly explain the peak in existing home sales. This is due to the Federal Reserve reinflating real estate prices back to levels last seen since before the 2008 crash. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) affordability index prints 138.8, the lowest since August 2008.

Chart 1 (below) shows there is a leading relationship between the trend in affordability and in home sales — a simple regression suggests the lead is about three months. In major cities, affordability continues to be a significant problem for many Americans amid a rising interest rate environment and elevated home prices, existing home sales should remain under pressure for the foreseeable future.


Chart 2 (above right) indicates that the share of properties with price discounts is on the rise, suggesting that sellers are unloading into weakening demand. The data from Zillow reveals that 15 percent of listings have price reductions, the highest since mid-2013 when home sales tumbled last.

The University of Michigan survey (Chart 3 below) reveals a worsening mood in the perception of buying conditions for homes. Respondents noted that home prices have become too high while rates have become restrictive.


BofA said that existing home sales were quick to recover post-crisis given motivated sellers – the lenders who were sitting with millions of distressed properties.

Distressed properties made up between 30 and 40 percent of sales in the early stages of the recovery.

Home prices were discounted until they reached the market clearing price and buyers entered.

The recovery for new homes sales began one year after existing, as homebuilders stayed idol waiting for the dust to settle.

“We are now looking at a market where existing home sales have returned to a solid pace but new home sales are still below normal levels. We think that builders will continue to selectively add inventory in markets where there is demand, allowing new home sales to glide higher. Ultimately we think new home sales will peak around 1mn saar based on the historical relationship between existing and new home sales,” said BofA.

BofA asks the difficult question: If existing home sales have peaked, does it mean the rate of growth of home prices will as well?

Their answer: In the last cycle, existing home sales peaked at 6.26mn saar on September 2005, coinciding with peak home price growth of 14.4 percent the same month (Chart 5). The pre-boom historical data are generally supportive as well, as are the recent data-single family existing home sales peaked at 4.9mn saar in March this year, as did home price appreciation at 6.5 percent. The result, well, existing home sales are pressured by declining affordability, home price growth should slow from here. BofA said a contraction in home prices seems unlikely at the moment, however, if demand is not stoked soon that can all change.


While BofA makes clear the housing market is starting to stall, the Federal Reserve is conducting quantitative tightening and rapidly increasing interest rates to get ahead of the next recession. In other words, liquidity is being removed from the system and the cost of borrowing is headed higher – an environment that is not friendly to real estate, and could be the key factor explaining the weakness in housing.


Which brings up another important question: while financial assets continue to rise, these have largely benefited the Top 10% of the population; meanwhile the bulk of the US middle class net worth has traditionally been allocated to such fixed assets as real estate. And if that is now rolling over, what is the outlook for the US consumer, which remains the dynamo behind the US economy?

There is another, potentially more troubling observation. According to TS Lombard, the current period is now only the third time in US history – after 1968 and 1999 – in which equities have made up a larger percentage of net worth than real estate.


While this may be good news for holders of stocks, it may not last: as TS Lombard observes, sharp bear markets followed shortly after 1968 and even sooner after 1999. And with housing peaking – if BofA is correct – share prices remain the only driver behind continued economic growth, prompting TSL to conclude that “the US economy can not afford a bear market.”

Source: ZeroHedge

“I Was In Shock”: Woman Finds Her BofA Safe Deposit Box Has Vanished (video)

A safe deposit box should, by definition, be “safe.” However, to her surprise, that is precisely the opposite of what a California woman discovered a few days ago.

Susan Nomi said that when she went to open the Bank of America safe deposit box she had for 16 years, the entire box had vanished. The safe is where she kept her family’s jewelry and her dad’s coin collection.

“I was in shock; I was just like what happened to my box,” said Nomi, quoted by CBS Sacramento.

Worse, Bank of America – which was custodian of the safety box – couldn’t explain where her valuables went: “They don’t have an answer. They don’t have an answer. They say thanks for letting us know,” Nomi said.

Making matters worse for the infuriated woman, she herself was a retired Bank of America employee of 40 years; and she’s not alone. Others have complained that Bank of America drilled their safe deposit boxes without permission or notice.

Another dissatisfied customer, Wendy Woo, said her belongings were taken out of her safe deposit box and shipped to her by the bank: “Everything was dumped in a plastic bag,” said Woo. In the process, a ring went missing and a necklace was damaged in the process.

Safe deposit box… that’s what it’s for, safe,” she said, only not when the safe belongs to Bank of America.

A second family complained that it too had gotten the contents of their safe deposit box shipped back too, but claim $17,000 in jewelry was missing.

“I just got robbed from the bank,” another woman complained: “They just took my stuff.”

Needless to say, what makes these situations bizarre, is that according to federal rules, banks can drill a box without permission only when there is a court order, search warrant, delinquent rental fees, requests from estate administrators, or if the bank is closing a branch. And yet none of those reasons applies to any of these cases.

Safe deposit box consultant Dave Guinn trains bank employees on proper safe deposit box procedures. He says federal law requires that banks give customers adequate notice.

“A notification should be made either by registered letter or by certified receipt letter,” said Guinn.

Meanwhile, in tis defense BofA said it does “…notify customers by mail in accordance with law well in advance prior to drilling a box.” But former employee Nomi’s not buying it: “I worked for them. It’s not like they couldn’t get a hold of me or anything.”

Adding to her Nomi’s frustration, Bank of America still can’t explain what happened to her valuables but said, “We certainly understand how frustrating this matter is for Mrs. Nomi and we are working with her on a resolution. We are looking at this situation to help us identify opportunities to help avoid similar events in the future as we continue to work on improving service to our customers.” She said “I can’t ever replace it. It’s irreplaceable, doesn’t matter how much its worth.”

Eventually, once the CBS news team got involved, the bank finally agreed to cut her a check. BofA also paid to fix Mrs. Woo’s damaged jewelry but left each of them wondering how safe a safe deposit box is.

Nomi has advice for others: “Check what’s in your box,” and “If you haven’t been in it for a while, make sure it’s there.”

The Bank of America rental agreement says they could terminate your rental agreement for your safe deposit box if you don’t give proper identification when requested. The customers in these incidents say that does not apply to their cases.

Banks have strict regulations they must follow, one being they have to have two keys to get into a box, yours and theirs. Plus, if a box has been drilled open, the bank must have a record of it being drilled.

So for all those readers who still hold gold in a bank vault, confident it will be there come rain or shine, now may be a time to quietly take it all out and have a small boating accident…

Source: ZeroHedge

Bank of America Contributed To $102 Million Ponzi Scheme: lawsuit

Plaintiffs charged that BofA lent the scheme an air of legitimacy and provided critical support


Bank of America Corp. was accused in a lawsuit of providing more than 100 accounts used to perpetrate what the U.S. regulators called a $102 million Ponzi scheme.

The class-action suit filed on behalf of people who lost money follows a complaint last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that five men and three companies defrauded more than 600 investors.

One of the alleged ringleaders once commissioned a song about himself for a party in Las Vegas with lyrics celebrating his $10,000 suits and his partner’s affinity for champagne, according to Monday’s complaint in federal court in Ocala, Florida.

The brother and sister who sued to recover losses from their late father’s investment claim the fraudsters “could not have perpetuated their scheme without the knowing assistance of their primary banking institution, Bank of America, which lent the scheme an air of legitimacy and provided critical support, including at times when the scheme would have otherwise collapsed,” according to the complaint.

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin had no immediate comment on the suit.

The lender is accused of failing to spot suspicious activity, including deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars into accounts with relatively small, negative or nonexistent balances, followed by transfers within the same week to other accounts or investors seeking to cash out.

The architects of the scheme promised they would put investor funds into profitable and perhaps dividend-paying companies, according to the SEC. But they spent $20 million from the investment pool to enrich themselves, made $38.5 million in “Ponzi-like payments” and transferred much of the rest away from the companies that were supposed to receive the money, the regulator said.

Source: Investment News

The Subprime Mortgage Is Back: It’s 2008 All Over Again!

Apparently the biggest banks in the US didn’t learn their lesson the first time around…

Because a few days ago, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and many of the usual suspects made a stunning announcement that they would start making crappy subprime loans once again!


I’m sure you remember how this all blew up back in 2008.

Banks spent years making the most insane loans imaginable, giving no-money-down mortgages to people with bad credit, and intentionally doing almost zero due diligence on their borrowers.

With the infamous “stated income” loans, a borrower could qualify for a loan by simply writing down his/her income on the loan application, without having to show any proof whatsoever.

Fraud was rampant. If you wanted to qualify for a $500,000 mortgage, all you had to do was tell your banker that you made $1 million per year. Simple. They didn’t ask, and you didn’t have to prove it.

Fast forward eight years and the banks are dusting off the old playbook once again.

Here’s the skinny: through these special new loan programs, borrowers are able to obtain a mortgage with just 3% down.

Now, 3% isn’t as magical as 0% down, but just wait ‘til you hear the rest.

At Wells Fargo, borrowers who have almost no savings for a down payment can actually qualify for a LOWER interest rate as long as you go to some silly government-sponsored personal finance class.

I looked at the interest rates: today, Wells Fargo is offering the exact same interest rate of 3.75% on a 30-year fixed rate, whether you have bad credit and put down 3%, or have great credit and put down 30%.

But if you put down 3% and take the government’s personal finance class, they’ll shave an eighth of a percent off the interest rate.

In other words, if you are a creditworthy borrower with ample savings and a hefty down payment, you will actually end up getting penalized with a HIGHER interest rate.

The banks have also drastically lowered their credit guidelines as well… so if you have bad credit, or difficulty demonstrating any credit at all, they’re now willing to accept documentation from “nontraditional sources”.

In its heroic effort to lead this gaggle of madness, Bank of America’s subprime loan program actually requires you to prove that your income is below-average in order to qualify.

Think about that again: this bank is making home loans with just 3% down (because, of course, housing prices always go up) to borrowers with bad credit who MUST PROVE that their income is below average.

[As an aside, it’s amazing to see banks actively competing for consumers with bad credit and minimal savings… apparently this market of subprime borrowers is extremely large, another depressing sign of how rapidly the American Middle Class is vanishing.]

Now, here’s the craziest part: the US government is in on the scam.

The federal housing agencies, specifically Fannie Mae, are all set up to buy these subprime loans from the banks.

Wells Fargo even puts this on its website: “Wells Fargo will service the loans, but Fannie Mae will buy them.” Hilarious.

They might as well say, “Wells Fargo will make the profit, but the taxpayer will assume the risk.”

Because that’s precisely what happens.

The banks rake in fees when they close the loan, then book another small profit when they flip the loan to the government.

This essentially takes the risk off the shoulders of the banks and puts it right onto the shoulders of where it always ends up: you. The consumer. The depositor. The TAXPAYER.

You would be forgiven for mistaking these loan programs as a sign of dementia… because ALL the parties involved are wading right back into the same gigantic, shark-infested ocean of risk that nearly brought down the financial system in 2008.

Except last time around the US government ‘only’ had a debt level of $9 trillion. Today it’s more than double that amount at $19.2 trillion, well over 100% of GDP.

In 2008 the Federal Reserve actually had the capacity to rapidly expand its balance sheet and slash interest rates.

Today interest rates are barely above zero, and the Fed is technically insolvent.

Back in 2008 they were at least able to -just barely- prevent an all-out collapse.

This time around the government, central bank, and FDIC are all out of ammunition to fight another crisis. The math is pretty simple.

Look, this isn’t any cause for alarm or panic. No one makes good decisions when they’re emotional.

But it is important to look at objective data and recognize that the colossal stupidity in the banking system never ends.

So ask yourself, rationally, is it worth tying up 100% of your savings in a banking system that routinely gambles away your deposits with such wanton irresponsibility…

… especially when they’re only paying you 0.1% interest anyhow. What’s the point?

There are so many other options available to store your wealth. Physical cash. Precious metals. Conservative foreign banks located in solvent jurisdictions with minimal debt.

You can generate safe returns through peer-to-peer arrangements, earning up as much as 12% on secured loans.

(In comparison, your savings account is nothing more than an unsecured loan you make to your banker, for which you are paid 0.1%…)

There are even a number of cryptocurrency options.

Bottom line, it’s 2016. Banks no longer have a monopoly on your savings. You have options. You have the power to fix this.

by Simon Black | ZeroHedge

Supreme Court Outlaws Chapter 7 ‘Stripping Off’ of Second Mortgages

by DS News

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that an underwater second mortgage cannot be extinguished, or “stripped off,” as unsecured debt for a debtor in bankruptcy, according to the Supreme Court‘s website.

In the cases of Bank of America v. Caulket and Bank of America v. Toledo-Cardona, Florida homeowners David Caulkett and Edelmiro Toldeo-Cardona had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and had second mortgages with Bank of America extinguished by a bankruptcy judge following the housing crisis of 2008 based on the fact that they were completely underwater. On Monday, just more than two months after hearing arguments for the case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the bank.

When the Supreme Court heard arguments for two cases on March 24, attorneys representing Bank of America contended that the high court should uphold a 1992 decision in the case of Dewsnup v. Timm, which barred debtors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy from “stripping off” an underwater second mortgage down to its market value, thus voiding the junior lien holder’s claim against the debtor. Attorneys for the debtors argued that the Dewsnup decision was irrelevant for the two cases.

Bank of America appealed the bankruptcy judge’s ruling for the two cases, but the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the bankruptcy court’s decision in May 2014, going against the Dewsnup ruling by saying that decision did not apply when the collateral on a junior lien (second mortgage) did not have sufficient enough value. The bank subsequently appealed the 11th Circuit Court’s ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the second mortgages should not be treated as unsecured debt, hence upholding the Dewsnup decision. Justice Clarence Thomas, in delivering the opinion of the court, wrote that, “Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to void a lien on his property ‘[t]o the extent that [the] lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim.’ 11 U. S. C. §506(d). These consolidated cases present the question whether a debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding may void a junior mortgage under §506(d) when the debt owed on a senior mortgage exceeds the present value of the property. We hold that a debtor may not, and we therefore reverse the judgments of the Court of Appeals.”


“The Court has spoken, and we respect its ruling,” said Stephanos Bibas, an attorney for defendant David Caulkett, in an email to DS News. “But we are disappointed that the Court extended its earlier precedent in Dewsnup v Timm, even though it acknowledged that the plain words of the statute favor giving relief to homeowners such as Messrs. Caulkett and Toledo-Cardona. We hope that in the near future, the Administration’s home-mortgage-modification programs will offer more relief to homeowners in this situation struggling to save their homes.”

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment on Monday’s Supreme Court’s ruling.

Click here to read the complete text of the Court’s ruling.

Pension Funds Sue Big Banks over Manipulation of $12.7 Trillion Treasuries Market

At least two government pension funds have sued major banks, accusing them of manipulating the $12.7 trillion market for U.S. Treasury bonds to drive up profits, thereby costing the funds—and taxpayers—millions of dollars.

As with another case earlier this year, in which major banks were found to have manipulated the London Inter bank Offered Rate (LIBOR), traders are accused of using electronic chat rooms and instant messaging to drive up the price that secondary customers pay for Treasury bonds, then conspiring to drop the price banks pay the government for the bonds, increasing the spread, or profit, for the banks. This also ends up costing taxpayers more to borrow money.

In the latest complaint, the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System is suing Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC Securities, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and others, according to Courthouse News Service. Last month State-Boston Retirement System (SBRS) filed a similar complaint against 22 banks, many of which are the same defendants in the Oklahoma suit.

“Defendants are expected to be ‘good citizens of the Treasury market’ and compete against each other in the U.S. Treasury Securities markets; however, instead of competing, they have been working together to conclusively manipulate the prices of U.S. Treasury Securities at auction and in the when-issued market, which in turn influences pricing in the secondary market for such securities as well as in markets for U.S. Treasury-Based Instruments,” the Oklahoma complaint states.

The State-Boston suit, which named Bank of America Corp’s Merrill Lynch unit, Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, UBS and 14 other defendants, makes similar charges.

SBRS uncovered the scheme when it hired economists to analyze Treasury securities price behavior, which pointed to market manipulation by the banks.

“The scheme harmed private investors who paid too much for Treasuries, and it harmed municipalities and corporations because the rates they paid on their own debt were also inflated by the manipulation,” Michael Stocker, a partner at Labaton Sucharow, which represents State-Boston, said in an interview with Reuters. “Even a small manipulation in Treasury rates can result in enormous consequences.”

Both the suits are seeking treble unnamed damages from the financial institutions involved. The LIBOR action earlier this year involved a settlement of $5.5 billion.

The U.S. Justice Department has reportedly launched its own investigation into the alleged Treasury market conspiracy.

by Steve Straehley in allgov.com

To Learn More:

Banks Rigged Treasury Bonds, Class Claims (by Lorraine Baily, Courthouse News Service)

State-Boston Retirement System, on behalf of itself and v. Bank of Nova Scotia (Courthouse News Service)

Lawsuit Accuses 22 Banks of Manipulating U.S. Treasury Auctions (by Jonathan Stempel, Reuters)

Four Banks Guilty of Currency Manipulation but, as Usual, No One’s Going to Jail (by Steve Straehley and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Bank Stock Prices Fall When Interest Rates Rise: Lessons from Bank Of America 1974

by Donald Van Deventer


  • Wm. Mack Terry explained the basics of how rates impact bank stocks at Bank of America in 1974. Net income goes up, margins go up, and stock price goes down.
  • We value a bank by replication, assembling a series of Treasury securities with the same financial characteristics as a bank. All of Mr. Terry’s conclusions are correct.
  • A more technical analysis and references are provided. Correlations with 11 different Treasury yields are added in Appendix A. Finally, a worked example is given in Appendix B.

We want to thank our readers for the very strong response to our June 17, 2015, note “Bank Stock Prices and Higher Interest Rates: Lessons from History.” For those readers who asked “is the correlation between Treasury yields and bank stock prices negative at other maturities besides the 10 year maturity?” – we include Appendix A. Appendix A shows that for all nine bank holding companies studied, there is negative correlation between the bank’s stock price and Treasuries for all maturities but two. One exception is the 1-month Treasury bill yield, which is the shortest time series reported by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The 1-month Treasury bill yield has only been reported since July 31, 2001. The correlation between the longer 3-month Treasury bill yield series and the stock prices of all nine bank holding companies is negative. The other series that occasionally has positive correlations is the 20 year U.S. Treasury yield, which is the second shortest yield series provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

In this note, we use modern “no arbitrage” finance and a story from 1974 to explain why there is and there should be a negative correlation between bank stock prices and interest rates. We finish with recommendations for further reading for readers with a very strong math background.

Wm. Mack Terry and Lessons from the Bank of America, 1974

In the summer of 1974 I began the first of two internships with the Financial Analysis and Planning group at Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) in San Francisco. My boss was Wm. Mack Terry, an eccentric genius from MIT and one of the smartest people ever to work at the Bank of America. One day he came to me and made a prediction. This is roughly what he said:

“Interest rates are going to go up, and two things are going to happen. Our net income and our net interest margins are going to go up, and our senior management is going to claim credit for this. But they’ll be wrong when they do so. Our income will only go up because we don’t pay interest on our capital. Shareholders are smart and recognize this. When they discount our free cash flow at higher interest rates, even with the increase on capital, our stock price is going to go down.”

Put another way, higher rates never increase the value of investments of capital funds, and the hedged interest rate spread is a long term fixed rate security that drops in value when rates rise. That is unless the leading researchers are completely wrong in their finding that credit spreads narrow when rates rise.

Everything Mack predicted came true. The 1-year U.S. Treasury yield was in the 8 percent range in the summer of 1974. It ultimately peaked at 17.31% on September 3, 1981. The short run impact of the rate rise was positive at Bank of America, but the long run impact was devastating. By the mid-1980s, the bank was in such distress that my then employer First Interstate Bancorp launched a hostile tender to buy Bank of America.

Their biggest problem was an interest rate mismatch, funding 30 year fixed rate mortgages with newly deregulated consumer deposits when rates went up.

The point of the story is not the anecdote about Bank of America per se. Why was Mack’s prediction correct? We give the formal academic references below, but we can use modern “no arbitrage” financial logic to understand what happened. We model a bank that’s assumed to have no credit risk by replication, assembling the bank piece by piece from traded securities. This was the approach taken by Black and Scholes in their famous options model, and it’s a common one in modern “no arbitrage” finance. We take a more complex approach in the “Technical Notes” section. For now, let’s make these assumptions to get at the heart of the issue:

  1. We assume the bank has no assets that are at risk of default.
  2. All of its profits come from investing at rates higher than U.S. Treasuries and by taking money from depositors at rates lower than U.S. Treasury yields
  3. We assume that the bank borrows money in such a way that all assets financed with borrowed money have no interest rate risk: the credit spread is locked in. We assume the net interest margin is locked in at a constant dollar amount that works out to $3 per share per quarter.
  4. We assume this constant dollar amount lasts for 30 years.
  5. With the bank’s capital, we assume the bank either buys 3-month Treasury bills or 30-year fixed rate Treasury bonds. We analyze both cases.
  6. We assume taxes are zero and that 100% of the credit spread cash flow is paid out as dividends to keep things simple.
  7. We assume the earnings on capital are retained and grow like the proceeds of a money market fund.

We use the U.S. Treasury curve of June 18 to analyze our simple bank. The present value of a dollar received in 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc. out to 30 years can be calculated using U.S. Treasury strips (zero coupon bonds) whose yields are shown here:

(click to enlarge)

We write the present value of a dollar received at time tj as P(tj). The first quarter is when j is 1. The last quarter is when j is 120. The cash flow thrown off to shareholders from the hedged borrowing and lending is the sum of $3 per quarter times the correct discount factors out to 30 years.

The sum of the discount factors is 81.02. When we say “the sum of the discount factors,” note that means that the entire 30 year Treasury yield curve is used in valuing the bank’s franchise, even if the bank makes that $3 per quarter rolling over short term assets and liabilities. When we multiply the sum of the discount factors by $3 per quarter, the value of the hedged lending business contributes $3 x 81.02 = $243.06 to the share price. This calculation is given in Appendix B.

How about the value of earnings on capital? And how much capital is there? The short answer is that it doesn’t matter – we’re just trying to illustrate valuation principals here. But let’s assume the $3 in quarterly “spread” income, $12 a year, is 1% of assets. That makes assets $1200 (per share). With 5% capital, we’ll use $60 as the bank’s capital. We analyze two investment strategies for capital: Strategy A is to invest in 3-month Treasury bills. They are yielding 0.01% on June 18. Strategy B is to invest in the current 30 year Treasury bond, yielding 3.14% on June 18. Let’s evaluate the stock price right now under both strategies. If rates don’t move, the current outlook is this if the bank invests its capital in Treasury bills using Strategy A:

Net income will be $12.006 per year. The value of capital at time zero is $60 because we’ve invested $60 in T-bills worth $60. The value of the hedged “spread lending” franchise, discounted over its 30-year life, is $243.060. That means the stock price must be the sum of these two pieces or there’s a chance for risk-less arbitrage. The stock price must be $303.060.

What happens to the stock price if, one second after we buy the stock, zero coupon bond yields across the full yield curve rise by 1%, 2%, or 3%? This is a mini-version of the Federal Reserve’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review stress tests. The stock price changes like this:

Higher rates are “good for the bank” in the sense that net income will rise because earnings on the 3-month Treasury bills will be 1%, 2% or 3% higher. This is exactly what Mack Terry explained to me in 1974. This has no impact on stock price, however, because the investment in T-bills is like an investment in a money market fund. Since the discount factor rises when the income rises, the value is stable. So the value of the invested capital is steady at $60. See the “Technical Notes” references for background on this. What happens to the value of the spread lending franchise? It gets valued just like a constant payment mortgage that won’t default or prepay. The value drops from $243.06 to either $215.04, $191.55 or $171.72. The calculations also are given in Appendix B. The result is a stock price that’s lower in every scenario, dropping 9.25%, 17.00% or 23.54%.

But wait, one might ask. Won’t the amount of lending increase and credit spreads widen at higher rates? Before we answer that question, we can calculate our breakeven expansion requirements. For the value of the lending franchise to just remain stable, we need to restore the value from 215.04, 191.55 or 171.72 to 243.06. This requires that the cash flow expand by 243.06/215.04-1 in the “up 1%” scenario. That means our cash flow has to expand by 13.03% from $12 a year to $13.56 per year. For the up 2% and up 3% scenarios, the increases have to be by 26.89% or 41.54%.

Just from a common sense point of view, this expansion of lending volume seems highly unlikely at best. A horde of academic studies discussed in Chapter 17 of van Deventer, Imai and Mesler also have found that when rates rise, credit spreads shrink rather than expand. Selected references are given in the “Technical Notes.”

Is Strategy B a better alternative? Sadly, no, because the income on invested capital stays the same (3.14% times $60) and the present value of the 30-year bond investment falls. Here are the results:

Good News and Conclusions

There is some good news in this analysis. Given the assumptions we have made, this bank will never go bankrupt. Because the assets funded with borrowed money are perfectly hedged from a rate risk point of view, the bank is in the “safety zone” that Dr. Dennis Uyemura and I described in our 1992 introduction to interest rate management, Financial Risk Management in Banking. The other good news is that Mack Terry’s example shows that the entire spectrum of Treasury yields is used to value bank stocks because the cash flow stream from the banking franchise spans a 30-year time horizon.

This example shows that, under simple but relatively realistic assumptions, the value of a bank can be replicated as a portfolio of Treasury-related securities. This portfolio falls in value when rates rise. The negative correlation between Treasury yields that 30 years of history shows is not spurious correlation – it’s consistent with the fundamental economics of banking when interest rate risk is hedged.

Wm. Mack Terry knew this in 1974, and legions of interest rate risk managers of banks have replicated this simple example in their regular interest rate risk simulations that are required by bank regulators around the world. What surprises me is that people are surprised to learn that higher interest rates lower bank stock prices.


Technical Notes

When writing for a general audience, some readers become concerned that the author only knows the level of analysis reflected in that article. We want to correct that impression in this section. We start with some general observations and close with references for technically oriented readers:

  1. For more than 50 years, beginning with the capital asset pricing model of Sharp, Mossin and Lintner, securities returns have been analyzed on an excess return basis relative to the risk free rate as a function of one or more factors. It is well known that the capital asset pricing model itself is not a very accurate description of security returns as a function of the risk factors.
  2. Arbitrage pricing theory expanded explanatory power by adding factors. Merton’s inter-temporal capital asset pricing model (1974) added interest rates driven by one factor with constant volatility.
  3. Best practice in modeling traded asset returns is defined by Amin and Jarrow (1992), who build on the multi-factor Heath, Jarrow and Morton interest rate model which allows for time varying and rate varying interest rate volatility. Amin and Jarrow also allow for time varying volatility as a function of interest rate and other risk factors.
  4. This is the procedure my colleagues and I use to decompose security returns. An important part of that process is an analysis of credit risk, as explained by Campbell, Hilscher and Szilagyi (2008, 2011). Jarrow (2013) explains how credit risk is incorporated in the Amin and Jarrow framework. This is the procedure we would explain in a more technical forum, like our discussion with clients.
  5. Asset return analysis is built on the Heath Jarrow and Morton interest rate simulation. The most recent 100,000 scenario simulation for U.S. Treasury yields (“The 3 Month T-bill Yield: Average of 100,000 Scenarios Up to 3.23% in 2025“) was posted on Seeking Alpha on June 16, 2015.

References for random interest rate modeling are given here:

Heath, David, Robert A. Jarrow and Andrew Morton, “Bond Pricing and the Term Structure of Interest Rates: A Discrete Time Approach,” Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, 1990, pp. 419-440.

Heath, David, Robert A. Jarrow and Andrew Morton, “Contingent Claims Valuation with a Random Evolution of Interest Rates,” The Review of Futures Markets, 9 (1), 1990, pp.54 -76.

Heath, David, Robert A. Jarrow and Andrew Morton,”Bond Pricing and the Term Structure of Interest Rates: A New Methodology for Contingent Claim Valuation,” Econometrica, 60(1), 1992, pp. 77-105.

Heath, David, Robert A. Jarrow and Andrew Morton, “Easier Done than Said”, RISK Magazine, October, 1992.

References for modeling traded securities (like bank stocks) in a random interest rate framework are given here:

Amin, Kaushik and Robert A. Jarrow, “Pricing American Options on Risky Assets in a Stochastic Interest Rate Economy,” Mathematical Finance, October 1992, pp. 217-237.

Jarrow, Robert A. “Amin and Jarrow with Defaults,” Kamakura Corporation and Cornell University Working Paper, March 18, 2013.

The impact of credit risk on securities returns is discussed in these papers:

Campbell, John Y., Jens Hilscher and Jan Szilagyi, “In Search of Distress Risk,” Journal of Finance, December 2008, pp. 2899-2939.

Campbell, John Y., Jens Hilscher and Jan Szilagyi, “Predicting Financial Distress and the Performance of Distressed Stocks,” Journal of Investment Management, 2011, pp. 1-21.

The behavior of credit spreads when interest rates vary is discussed in these papers:

Campbell, John Y. & Glen B. Taksler, “Equity Volatility and Corporate Bond Yields,” Journal of Finance, vol. 58(6), December 2003, pages 2321-2350.

Elton, Edwin J., Martin J. Gruber, Deepak Agrawal, and Christopher Mann, “Explaining the Rate Spread on Corporate Bonds,” Journal of Finance, February 2001, pp. 247-277.

The valuation of bank deposits is explained in these papers:

Jarrow, Robert, Tibor Janosi and Ferdinando Zullo. “An Empirical Analysis of the Jarrow-van Deventer Model for Valuing Non-Maturity Deposits,” The Journal of Derivatives, Fall 1999, pp. 8-31.

Jarrow, Robert and Donald R. van Deventer, “Power Swaps: Disease or Cure?” RISK magazine, February 1996.

Jarrow, Robert and Donald R. van Deventer, “The Arbitrage-Free Valuation and Hedging of Demand Deposits and Credit Card Loans,” Journal of Banking and Finance, March 1998, pp. 249-272.

The use of the balance of the money market fund for risk neutral valuation of fixed income securities and other risky assets is discussed in technical terms by Heath, Jarrow and Morton and in a less technical way:

Jarrow, Robert A. Modeling Fixed Income Securities and Interest Rate Options, second edition, Stanford Economics and Finance, Stanford, 2002.

Jarrow, Robert A. and Stuart Turnbull, Derivative Securities, second edition, South-Western College Publishing, 2000.

Appendix A: Expanded Correlations

The expanded correlations in this appendix use data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury as distributed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in its H15 statistical release.

It is important to note that the 1-month Treasury bill rate has only been reported since July 31, 2001, and that is the reason that the correlations between bank stock prices and that maturity are so different from all of the other maturities. The history of reported data series is taken from van Deventer, Imai and Mesler, Advanced Financial Risk Management, 2nd edition, 2013, chapter 3.

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Bank of America Corporation Correlations

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Bank of New York Mellon Correlations

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BB&T Correlations

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Citigroup Inc. Correlations

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JP Morgan Chase & Co. Correlations

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State Street Correlations

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Sun Trust Correlations

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U.S. Bancorp Correlations

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Wells Fargo & Company Correlations

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Appendix B

Valuing the Banking Franchise: Worked Example

The background calculations for today’s analysis are given here. The extraction of zero coupon bond prices from the Treasury yield curve is discussed in van Deventer, Imai and Mesler (2013), chapters 5 and 17.

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