High Funding Risk and Low Hedge Fund Returns
Previous title: High Funding Risk, Low Return
Critical Finance Review, forthcoming
Abstract: I show that hedge funds with a high exposure to market-wide funding shocks - measured by changes in LIBOR-OIS spreads - subsequently underperform funds with a low exposure to market-wide funding shocks by 5.76% annually on a risk-adjusted basis (t=4.04). To explain this puzzling result, I hypothesize that this type of funding risk exposure is connected to hedge funds' liabilities with limited upside in normal times and severe downside risk during funding crises. Supporting this hypothesis, the performance difference between low-funding-risk and high-funding-risk funds is largest when funding constraints are most binding and for funds with more fragile liabilities.
with Olav Syrstad
Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 141 (2), pages 783-801
A previous version ("Burying LIBOR") was circulated as Norges Bank Working Paper
Abstract: We examine the alternative reference rates that are set to replace the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) as benchmark rate by the end of 2021. After providing the relevant background, we show that: (i) depending on the marginal lenders, tighter regulatory constraints can either increase or decrease the alternative benchmarks; (ii) increases in the amount of government debt outstanding increase the alternative benchmarks, more so for collateralized rates; (iii) more central bank reserves lower the alternative benchmarks. In addition, we show that term rates based on the alternative reference rates are detached from banks' marginal funding costs.
with Frank Fabozzi, Pia Mølgaard, Mads Stenbo Nielsen
Journal of Financial Intermediation, Volume 46 (2021), article 100868
Abstract: Using a novel dataset of leveraged loan trades executed by managers of collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), we document the importance of "active loan trades" - trades executed at a manager's discretion. More active trading increases the returns to CLO equity investors, lowers collateral portfolio default rates, and increases the manager's chances of closing a new deal. Examining the observed loan trades, we find that more active CLOs trade at better prices than less active CLOs, selling leveraged loans earlier and before they get downgraded. Our findings suggest that more active CLOs are better at anticipating deteriorations in loan credit quality.
with Suresh Sundaresan
Journal of Finance, Volume 72 (2) (2019), pages 675-710
Abstract: The 30-year U.S. swap spreads have been negative since September 2008. We offer a novel explanation for this persistent anomaly. Through an illustrative model, we show that underfunded pension plans optimally use swaps for duration hedging. Combined with dealer banks' balance sheet constraints, this demand can drive swap spreads to become negative. Empirically, we construct a measure of the aggregate funding status of Defined Benefit pension plans and show that this measure is a significant explanatory variable of 30-year swap spreads. We find a similar link between pension funds' underfunding and swap spreads for two other regions.
with David Lando
Review of Financial Studies, Volume 31 (5) (2018), pages 1856-1895
Abstract: We develop a model in which a derivatives-dealing bank faces capital charges from uncollateralized swap positions with sovereigns, and buys Credit Default Swap (CDS) contracts to obtain capital relief. CDS premiums depend on margin requirements for buyers and sellers of CDS contracts, the value of capital relief for the dealer banks, and the return on a risky asset. We explain the regulatory requirements that lead derivatives dealers to buy CDS and translate volumes of derivatives contracts outstanding between sovereigns and banks into CDS hedging demand. We argue that CDS premiums for safe sovereigns are primarily driven by regulatory requirements.
Article based on my master thesis:
with Y. S. Kim, S. T. Rachev, and F. J. Fabozzi
Applied Financial Economics, 2013, 23(15) p. 1231-1238
Abstract: In this article, we introduce two new six-parameter processes based on time-changing tempered stable distributions and develop an option pricing model based on these processes. This model provides a good fit to observed option prices. To demonstrate the advantages of the new processes, we conduct two empirical studies to compare their performance to other processes that have been used in the literature.
With Suresh Sundaresan and Michael Moran (June 21, 2022)
Abstract: Between 2012 and 2020, U.S. corporate sponsors of defined benefit (DB) pension plans transferred around $100 billion pension obligations for more than one million plan participants to insurance companies using pension risk transfers (PRTs). We model PRT decisions as an option exercise problem and assemble a new data set of PRTs. Consistent with our model, the propensity to conduct a PRT is higher for firms with higher macroeconomic flow-through costs, lower stock market investments, more inactive employees, and lower default risk. We highlight potential implications of PRTs for the remaining sponsor pool and compare PRTs to other de-risking strategies.
With Suresh Sundaresan - New version (October 27, 2021)
Winner of the Arthur Warga Award 2019 (previous title: How Safe are Safe Havens?)
Abstract: After the global financial crisis, the yields of U.S. Treasury bills frequently exceed other risk-free rate benchmarks, thereby pointing to a diminishing convenience premium. Constructing a new measure of dealers' balance sheet constraints for providing intermediation in U.S. Treasury markets, we trace these diminishing convenience premiums to primary dealers' ability to act as intermediaries. Even after accounting for Treasury supply, levels of interest rates, and other controls, falling excess demand of primary dealers in Treasury auctions, their increased Treasury holdings, and balance sheet constraints post-2015, remain key variables in explaining the diminishing convenience premiums.
With Olav Syrstad - New version (December 14, 2021)
This paper subsumes our old working paper "Cash is Not King: Evidence from the Commercial Paper Market"
Abstract: Using new transaction-level data for non-financial commercial paper (CP) in the U.S., we show that companies systematically reduce their outstanding short-term debt on quarterly and annual disclosure dates. Constraints on CP lending supply cannot explain this pattern. Instead, companies optimize their disclosed liquidity buffers and strategically repay CP debt if doing so strengthens common accounting ratios, such as the current ratio. Unlike other CP issuers, firms that repay their CP debt neither hold lower cash buffers nor use CP as bridge financing, suggesting an alternative role of CP debt as “hidden liquidity buffer”.