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The U.S. Financial System in 2011: How Will Sufficient Credit Be Provided?

by Susan Hickok and Daniel E. Nolle


This paper uses Flow of Funds data on the level of net new credit extension to construct a bird's-eye view of what the financial market landscape might look like once the turmoil subsides and the economy has begun to recover. The paper targets two related questions: (1) How much credit must be extended in order to return the economy to its long-run trend growth? (2) What roles will the major credit providers likely play in that process? The mix of sources supplying credit for the home mortgage, consumer, and nonfinancial business sector markets is different, and so we consider each of those markets separately. We focus on the roles of banks, traditional nonbank credit providers (such as finance companies and pension funds), the corporate bond and commercial paper markets, and structured finance, including government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) mortgage-backed securities (MBS) issuance, consumer (i.e., nonmortgage) asset-backed securities (ABS) issuance, and the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market.

As a reasonable assumption as to how the credit market may develop we start by positing a "baseline" scenario under which banks return to their long-run trend level of financing for home mortgage, consumer, and business sector borrowing. We then examine the extent to which other major providers of credit are likely to fill the remaining demand for credit. We consider what would happen if various of these credit providers were unable to meet the credit supply role asked of them in order to fulfill credit demand. We conclude that the revival of structured finance is crucial for home mortgage, consumer, and business sector credit provision if sharp adjustments in the cost of credit and major structural adjustments in credit markets are to be avoided. Specifically: (1) in the home mortgage market, GSE's sales of MBS sufficient to support about half of borrowers' credit needs are required for banks and private-label securitizers to operate at normal levels; and at least a modest role for private label MBS issuance is probably necessary to ensure adequate mortgage credit availability at a normal interest cost, (2) for consumer borrowing, without a substantial revival of the ABS market, banks and nonbank credit providers would not likely make up for the resultant shortfall without a sharp rise in the cost of consumer credit, and (3) for business sector credit, the re-emergence of the CMBS market is likely essential for adequate provision of commercial mortgage credit since, in the absence of large changes in the price of credit, banks are unlikely to make up for a large shortfall of CMBS-supported business sector credit extension. In contrast, banks and other credit channels likely would replace a credit shortfall resulting from a moribund commercial paper market without an undue rise in the cost of business credit.


Any whole or partial reproduction of material in this paper should include the following citation: Susan Hickok and Daniel E. Nolle, "The U.S. Financial System in 2011: How Will Sufficient Credit Be Provided?" Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Economics and Policy Working Paper 2009-6, November 2009.


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