The impact of the Subprime-Crisis on European Banks

The impact of the Subprime-Crisis on European Banks

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Inhaltsangabe:Abstract: The US subprime-crisis became a headline in the global media starting in February 2007 after the US housing market had already shown first signs of a slowdown in late 2006. Previously, the US housing market had enjoyed a favorable environment, especially from 2002 to 2005, which was characterized by low interest rates, rising house values, and increasing home financing possibilities through subprime mortgages. However, more and more events were published during the year by US mortgage brokers, international investment banks, and central banks around the world that presented a picture which caused today s perception of the subprime-crisis. What s more, the subprime-crisis is far from being over: an end to the crisis is not yet in sight. One rather unique characteristic of this crisis is that its actual basis is the delinquencies and defaults of subprime single-family home mortgages in the US which is commonly not regarded to be of great relevance for the international capital markets. However, taking into account the originate and distribute business model of US mortgage brokers in connection with the securitization of these mortgages into various types of securities that are traded on a global basis, it is not surprising to observe that banks and investment funds around the world were invested into these securities. Before the crisis started, only a few banks or funds considered the liquidity of these securities when investing significant amounts of money in them because they focused on maximizing their returns. But, when larger problems in the US subprime mortgage market became evident, liquidity became the major concern for investors and investor preferences significantly shifted to safer assets such as government bonds. This caused severe problems in the money market, which ultimately brought the crisis across the Atlantic to Europe. Moreover, funding problems emerged and caused the first bank run in Europe in decades when depositors in Britain started to queue outside Northern Rock branches for hours to withdraw their deposits in light of fears that the bank might have to file for bankruptcy. In addition, another British bank had been in the spotlight earlier that year because HSBC was the first European bank to announce a billion dollar write-off linked to its exposure to subprime mortgages. Taking into consideration the subprime-crisis-related events in Europe, the British banking market can be characterized as the only banking market in Europe where the subprime crisis caused banks to substantially write down subprime-related assets on the one hand but where severe funding problems even led to a bank run that had to be bailed out by the central bank and the government on the other hand. Consequently, the British banking market can be considered to be the European banking market with the highest impact of the subprime-crisis and is, therefore, worth analyzing in detail. The objective of this thesis is to discuss the reasons for the emergence of the subprime-crisis and to empirically examine whether the subprime-crisis had an impact on the British Banking sector. The empirical analysis consists of two different approaches whereas an event study measures the short-term impact of certain news. The performance of the British banking sector in the full year 2007 is analyzed in a second approach that focuses on the long-term impact of the subprime-crisis. In addition, the paper provides an overview on the development of the subprime-crisis in 2007 based on a detailed description of the underlying fundamental market characteristics. In order to empirically measure the impact of the subprime-crisis on British banks, an event study will be conducted. Event studies are a widely-used empirical methodology in economics and finance to examine the impact of certain events: they are considered to be the standard method to measure security price reactions. An event study is an empirical study that measures if specific events have a significant impact on certain stock prices by calculating abnormal stock returns around predefined events. In this regard, an abnormal return is the difference between the actual return in the market and the expected return according to a return generating model. A common assumption in this regard is that positive events lead to positive abnormal returns whereas negative events cause the abnormal returns to be negative. Consequently, important news relating to the subprime-crisis will be categorized as positive or negative and its impact on stock returns will be determined. The event study, as well as the timeline of the subprime-crisis, include events from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007. The analysis of the year-round performance of the British banking sector in 2007 is conducted in addition to the event study and follows a different methodology. In contrast to the analysis of the impact of individual events, this approach deals with the performance of British banks and compares this to the performance of an alternative non-bank portfolio. Key to this analysis is that both portfolios have the same risk and return characteristics at the beginning of 2007 that have been determined through a backtesting of the portfolios performance in 2006. Course of the Investigation: In the second chapter, important fundamentals of the subprime-crisis will be examined. These fundamentals explain how an environment was able to develop in the last decades that lay the foundation for today s crisis. In Chapter 2.1, an overview about the development and the structure of the US subprime mortgage market will be presented before specific characteristics of subprime mortgages will be outlined in 2.2. The unique business model of mortgage brokers is depicted subsequently. The last segments of Chapter 2 specify complex financial instruments that enabled the subprime-crisis to spread around the world and explain why the securitization process leads to high-risk securities. Chapter 3 specifically describes the development of the subprime-crisis in 2007. After presenting an overview about the situation of the US housing market up to 2007 in 3.1, a timeline about last year s subprime-crisis is outlined in 3.2, and the impact on international capital markets is discussed in 3.3. Chapter 3.4 focuses on the consequences for British banks and the actions of the British financial regulatory environment. An empirical analysis of the subprime-crisis is conducted in Chapter 4. A general overview about event studies and their historic development is presented in 4.1. After deducing the typical framework of an event study in 4.2, the relevant British banks in line with its market index as well as relevant news for the event study are determined in Chapter 4.3. The actual event study that analyzes the impact of the subprime-crisis on British banks will be presented in Chapter 4.4. Additionally, a comparison of the performance of a bank portfolio with an alternative non-bank portfolio is given in 4.5. Finally, Chapter 5 contains a summary of the theoretical concepts and the empirical results and gives an outlook about a potential development of the subprime-crisis, capital markets, and specifically the British banking market. Ideas for further research are also presented. Inhaltsverzeichnis:Table of Contents: LIST OF FIGURESI LIST OF TABLESII LIST OF ABBREVIATIONSIII 1.INTRODUCTION1 1.1Motivation and Objective1 1.2Course of the Investigation3 2.FUNDAMENTALS OF THE SUBPRIME-CRISIS4 2.1The US Housing and Subprime Mortgage Market4 2.2Characteristics ofSubprime Mortgages7 2.3Business Model of US Mortgage Brokers9 2.4Financial Instruments Underlying the Subprime-Crisis10 2.5Consequences of the Fragmented Securitization Process14 3.THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SUBPRIME-CRISIS15 3.1Situation of the US Housing Market up to200715 3.2Timeline of the Subprime-Crisis in 200717 3.3Spillover Effects from the Mortgage Market to the Global Capital Markets21 3.4Consequences for the British Banking Market22 4.EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS ABOUT THE SUBPRIME-CRISIS27 4.1History and Overview of Event Studies27 4.2Framework of an Event Study28 4.3Selection of Relevant Data31 4.3.1British Banks and Market Index31 4.3.2News about Private Financial Institutions and Central Banks32 4.4Event Study About the Subprime-Crisis34 4.4.1Event Study Methodology34 4.4.2Formulation and Testing of Hypotheses36 4.4.3Interpretation of Results37 4.5Year-round Performance of the British Banking Sector in 200740 5.SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION43 REFERENCES45 APPENDIXES51 Textprobe:Text Sample: Chapter 3.2, Timeline of the Subprime-Crisis in 2007: In February 2007, the first signs appeared that subprime mortgage brokers were in trouble as ResMae Mortgage filed for bankruptcy and Nova Star Financial reported a loss that was not expected by analysts. It was also the beginning of European banks having to announce losses that were caused by the subprime-crisis. HSBC reported losses of Dollar 10.5bn in its mortgage finance subsidiary in the US and, consequently, fired the head of that particular division. Problems of US mortgage brokers became more and more evident in March 2007 as People s Choice was the next mortgage broker that had to declare bankruptcy. Moreover, the brokers Fremont General and New Century Financial stopped making new subprime mortgages. Two weeks later, rumors appeared that New Century Financial may have to file for bankruptcy as well and these rumors became true in the beginning of April when the company had to file for Chapter 11. In May, the next European bank announced an involvement in the subprime-crisis when UBS had to close its US hedge fund operation Dillon Read Capital Management. In June 2007, rating agencies began appearing in the crisis. Moody s downgraded 131 subprime MBSs and announced to review the rating of an additional 260 securities. Moreover, two Bear Stearns hedge funds that heavily invested in subprime-backed securities lost a significant part of their value and Bear Stearns had to bail-out the hedge funds and provide them with Dollar3.2bn to cover their subprime exposure. As a result, they fired their head of asset management who was responsible for the hedge fund business. July 2007 is considered the first month when the subprime-crisis had a significant impact on the stock market. After closing above 14, 000 points for the first time in history, the Dow Jones lost about seven percent until the end of September. UBS brought the crisis back to Europe once more when they suddenly fired their chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Wuffli, mentioning problems relating to the subprime crisis as the cause of this decision. Ration agencies also played a major role in July when Standard a Poor s (SaP) and Moody s downgraded the ratings of subprime MBSs with values of Dollar 7.3bn and Dollar 5.0bn, respectively. On July 7, SaP announced a review of the ratings of numerous CDOs with investments in subprime structured products; Moody s was said to review 184 mortgage-backed CDO tranches. Mortgage brokers were in the spotlight again when American Home Mortgage had difficulties in the refinancing of loans. Countrywide, another major mortgage broker announced a drop in earnings as more and more of their subprime loans defaulted. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke also mentioned rising defaults in the subprime market and estimated that total losses caused by the subprime crisis could add up to Dollar 100bn. Suddenly, on July 30, the German bank IKB Deutsche Industriebank (IKB) had to announce that one of its ABCP conduits that invested in subprime structured products had troubles refinancing itself. As a consequence, IKB s main shareholder, state-owned KfW, had to bail-out IKB and guaranteed liquidity lines for the conduit Rhineland Funding. One day later, on August 1, 2007, the whole picture of IBK was presented to the public. Total losses due the Rhineland Funding conduit were Euro 3.5bn and a rescue fund by KfW and other German private banks was installed. The mortgage broker American Home Mortgage finally declared bankruptcy and extended the terms on ABCP that were issued by one of its funding conduits. Liquidity problems in the markets for structured products became obvious when BNP Paribas stopped the redemption of three of its funds with a total value of Euro 2bn because they were not able to calculate a fair price for the funds due to the illiquid subprime MBS market. This announcement triggered concerns about market prices of structured credit products in general and interbank lending rates such as LIBOR strongly increased as banks sought liquidity. ABCPs were also priced with higher premiums. This closure of BNP Paribas funds can be regarded as one of the key events in the subprime-crisis because it caused central banks to heavily intervene in the money markets. One day later, the European Central Bank (ECB) injected Euro 95bn of short-term liquidity into the European money market and, subsequently, the Fed as well as the Bank of Japan provided liquidity to their respective money markets. These central banks continued to provide hundreds of billions of dollars of short-term liquidity to the global money markets in the following weeks. The Fed intervened again, by reducing the discount rate in order to provide liquidity to the markets. Goldman Sachs was the next company that had to inject money into a hedge fund in mid-August. The investment bank injected Dollar3bn into one of its hedge funds that suffered from losses in subprime structured products. Citigroup closed seven SIVs with a value of Dollar49bn and took the SIVs subprime debt on its balance sheet as the SIVs were not able to receive funding due to the illiquidity in the money markets. Morgan Stanley announced to a write-off of Dollar 9.4bn due to investments in the subprime market and sold a 9.9 percent stake to a Chinese investment company in order to strengthen its equity base later that month. Countrywide also suffered from the illiquid markets and had to draw down Dollar 11.5bn from the company s credit lines before receiving a Dollar2bn cash injection from Bank of America. Similar to the losses of IKB, SachsenLB, another German bank, reported refinancing problems in one of its conduits that invested into subprime mortgage products and was, consequently, sold to LBBW after receiving a Euro17.3bn credit line. Looking at the British Banking market, Barclays received a Pounds1.6bn short-term loan from the Bank of England. In the beginning of September 2007, it became evident that the subprime-crisis was a truly global crisis when Bank of China revealed that they made losses of Dollar 9bn that can be attributed to subprime investments. The major event of the subprime-crisis in Britain started on September 13, when the BBC announced that Northern Rock received an emergency loan from the Bank of England in order to solve its refinancing problems. As a consequence, a bank run started that could only be stopped when the British government guaranteed all savings. A more detailed analysis of Northern Rock is presented in Chapter 3.4. A number of investment banks announced their quarterly results in September. Goldman Sachs reports net earnings of Dollar 2.8bn, which were mainly due to short positions in structured subprime mortgage products, whereas Deutsche Bank announced losses of Euro1.7bn. HSBC had losses of Dollar 880m in the third quarter and announced the closure of its US subprime mortgage unit. International banks continued to announce quarterly results in October. UBS reveled an unexpectedly high loss, wrote down Dollar3.4bn in its fixed income division, and fired its Chief Financial Officer and its investment banking head. Moreover, Citigroup had to write-off Dollar 5.9bn in addition to its earlier write-offs. Merrill Lynch s write-offs accounted for Dollar 7.9bn and caused total losses of Dollar 2.3bn. As a result, CEO Stan O Neil resigned from his position. The Japanese Bank Nomura also announced a substantial loss and closed its US MBS department. The US government initiated the Hope Now initiative that was set up in order to support homeowners to avoid defaults on their mortgage. The US Treasury Department also made major US banks install the Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit that was supposed to buy illiquid structured products to reestablish liquidity in the market. SaP downgraded another Dollar23bn worth of structured products that were backed by mortgage loans and unlike the downgrades in August, SaP also downgraded securities that had an AAA rating before. On October 31, the Fed announced the expected reduction of the federal funds target rate by another 25 basis points to 4.5 percent. Investment banks continued to report their subprime exposure in November 2007. Citigroup started with admitting an additional write-down requirement between Dollar8bn and Dollar11bn after already having to write-off Dollar5.9bn in October. As a consequence of these substantial losses, CEO Charles Prince resigned. Morgan Stanley reported a Dollar3.7bn loss in its subprime mortgage investments, whereas Wachovia announced a total loss of Dollar1.7bn. Bank of America wrote off Dollar3bn due to investments in the subprime market and the GSE Freddie Mac reported a loss of Dollar2bn. Besides US banks, UK banks were also again affected by the subprime-crisis. Barclays and HSBC had to write down Dollar2.7bn and Dollar3.4bn, respectively. At the end of November, Citigroup announced an increase in its equity base and sold additional shares to an investment fund based in Abu Dhabi in order to raise Dollar7.5bn. Moreover, Freddie Mac increased its equity by issuing Dollar6bn worth of new shares. In line with Freddie Mac s capital increase, Fannie Mae also issued new shares worth Dollar7bn in the beginning of December 2007. On December 3, Moody s announced a review of additional subprime debt. The British banks Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB reported subprime write-offs with a value of Pounds1.25bn and Pounds200m, respectively. On December 6, the Bank of England lowered the interest rate by 25 basis points while the ECB left the interest rates at a constant level following its regular meeting on the same day. In the US, the Fed lowered the discount rate by 25 basis points one week later although some directors were in favor of a 50 basis points interest rate cut. UBS announced that the bank had to write-down another Dollar10bn due to its subprime mortgage market investments. In addition, the company received an Dollar11.5bn capital infusion by investors from Singapore and the Middle East. The last banks that reported substantial losses in 2007 were Washington Mutual, who reported fourth quarter losses of Dollar1.6bn and Morgan Stanley, who wrote off an additional 9.4 Dollar bn and also sold new equity to a foreign investor. In order to provide European banks with sufficient liquidity at the end of the year, the ECB provided banks with 500 Dollar bn at the end of December. This timeline of the development of the subprime-crisis in 2007 shows the huge impact on the international financial markets and global financial institutions that the problems in the US subprime mortgage market have caused. The next chapter will highlight how the crisis in the subprime mortgage market was able to spill over to other asset classes on a global basis. In order to understand the consequences of the subprime-crisis and especially the need for central bank interventions in the money markets, it is necessary to understand the emergence of the liquidity crisis that appeared in the second half of 2007. Many economists such as Buiter define August 9, 2007 as the day when the subprime-crisis was evidently the trigger for the global capital markets crisis. The closure of the BNP Paribas funds due to its inability to value ABS had a spill-over effect on many asset classes and also forced the central banks to massively intervene in the money markets. In economic theory, these spill-over effects are called contagion, which is defined as the spread of a crisis from one specific market into different countries or asset classes. One major consequence was the widening in credit spreads in the global money markets that were caused by the liquidity shortage in the interbank market. Banks across the globe were more and more uncertain about other banks involvement in subprime MBSs and CDOs and the financial health of their counterparties in money market transactions and became reluctant to lend money, even on a short-time basis. As a result, a liquidity crisis occurred that forced the central banks to provide enormous amounts of liquidity to the interbank markets. One characteristic of the liquidity crisis was a so-called flight to quality which means that banks and fund managers sell riskier assets such as subprime MBSs and CDOs and invest in safe assets such as government bonds. A flight to quality is generally regarded to be based on uncertainty in the markets or uncertainty about counterparties rather than on the risk of specific assets itself. This also seems to hold true for the subprime-crisis. Due to the large supply in these risky asset classes, the markets for MBSs, CDOs, and ABCPs became very illiquid because many sellers were opposing few buyers. As a result, credit spreads in these asset classes significantly increased. As a reaction to the liquidity crisis in the interbank market, central banks intervened several times and provided liquidity to the market.1 10.10.2007 The National Association for Realtors revises down its outlook for home sales. It lowers its prediction ... Under the plans, Northern Rock would keep its stock market listing but would be rebranded as Virgin Money. 3 12.10.2007anbsp;...

Title:The impact of the Subprime-Crisis on European Banks
Author: Jan-Frederik Modell - 2008-04-21

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