Federal Reserve publishes its inaugural flagship financial stability report.
Peter Prince

2018-12-05 09:38:00 Wed ET

Federal Reserve publishes its inaugural flagship financial stability report. Fed Chair Jerome Powell applauds both low inflation (2%) and low unemployment (3.7%) as evidence of a robust U.S. economic outlook. Federal Reserve aims to continue the gradual interest rate hike to help the U.S. economy operate near full employment as the inflation rate rises above the symmetric 2% target threshold. The first-ever financial stability report warns of the economic dangers that lurk in corporate debt. Investors exhibit a high tolerance for risks in business debt as the corporate-debt-to-GDP ratio hits the historically high ratio of 0.45 with some signs of deterioration in credit standards. The same financial stability report finds less worrisome aspects in the U.S. financial system. Low household leverage better aligns with aggregate income, and the systemically-important financial institutions (SIFIs) carry higher equity capital buffers with liquid assets. Moreover, SIFIs have passed the Federal Reserve annual macro stress tests as of mid-2018.

Also, broker-dealer leverage is below the pre-crisis levels; insurers face favorable solvency positions; and money-market funds become less vulnerable to bank runs. Overall, the U.S. financial system seems sound and efficient, but high corporate leverage may crowd out public debt accumulation. The Trump administration thus needs a fair bit of fiscal discipline and prudence.

 


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