What is a bank? What do banks do for their customers?

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Functions and Forms of Banking

  • Outline

  • What is a bank?

  • What do banks do for their customers?

  • Why do banks perform those services?

  • How do banks compare to other financial service organizations?

  • What factors have affected the operations of commercial banks and other financial service organizations?

  • What are the principal sources and uses of funds for banks?

What is a bank?

  • The legal definition changes over time and the functions of a bank have changed over years.

  • In the U.S. a “bank” is defined by federal and state laws and by bank regulators.

  • National Currency Act of 1863 created the OCC (Office of the Comptroller of Currency) and said a national bank will carry out the “… business of banking.” For example, discounting notes, exchanging coin and bills , and receiving deposits.

  • Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 changed the definition to accepting deposits that can be withdrawn on demand and making commercial loans.

  • Nonbank bank: a firm that undertakes many of the activities of a commercial bank without meeting the legal definition of a bank

  • Competitive Equality Banking Act of 1987 broadened definition to accepting deposits and making loans.

  • No new nonbanks were chartered.

  • Today a legal definition is that a bank makes loans, has insured FDIC deposits, and has banking powers under state and federal government laws.

Q) How do commercial banks differ from other types of depository institutions such as credit unions?

  • A commercial bank is an organization that is given a banking charter by the state or the federal government. A commercial bank has FDIC insured deposits and makes loans.

  • Credit unions are not chartered as banks, nor to they have FDIC insured deposits.

  • Nevertheless, credit unions and financial service firms provide many of the same services as banks, but they are not necessarily covered by the same laws, regulations or taxes as banks.

What is a bank?

  • Types of banks:

  • Global, international banks or money center bank:

e.g) Bank of New York, Bankers Trust, Chase Manhattan, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Bank One

  • Regional or Superregional bank: Medium and large size banks (over 1 billion in asset size) that engage in a complete array of whole-sale commercial banking activities (consumer, residential, commercial, and industrial lending).

  • Community bank: Small and medium size banks (under 1 billion) that are retail or consumer banks

What do banks do for their customers?

  • Payments

  • These services include coin and currency and financial transactions, including checking accounts, credit cards, electronic banking, wire transfers, and etc.

  • Retail payments system; personal checks, credit and debit cards

  • Large-dollar payments system: used by firms and governments to handle large-dollar domestic and international payments

CHIPS (Clearing House Interbank Payments System) - a private electronic transfer system operated by large banks

Fedwire - a whole sale wire transfer system operated by the Fed.

About, on any given day, $2 trillion of payments are affected through Fedwire and CHIPS.

  • Financial intermediation:

  • Deposit function of offering savers a wide variety of denominations, interest rates, and maturities, as well as risk-free (FDIC insured) deposits and a high degree of liquidity.

  • Bonds and stocks usually have high denominations, high risk, and less liquidity

  • Loan function of transferring or allocating savings to most productive and profitable uses to provide growth and stability of the economy.

  • Other financial services include:

  • off-balance sheet activities; financial derivatives and guarantees (e.g . Letter of credit), generating fee income by assuming contingent liabilities

  • insurance-related activities,

  • securities-related services; discount brokerage services, underwriting U.S. Treasure securities, selling mutual funds

  • trust services

Why do banks perform those services?

  • Banks are private firms with a public purpose (economic growth and stability).

  • Banks seek to maximize the market value of equity of common shareholders (represented by the market value of bank stock and dividends paid). Of course, profits on operations will increase share price, holding all risks constant.

  • In practice, banks face a variety of risks:

  • Credit risk; the risk that the promised cash flows from loans and securities held by banks may not be paid in full

  • Interest rate risk: the risk associated with changes in market rates of interest. Occurs when the maturities of assets and liabilities are mismatched.

  • Refinancing risk- the risk that the cost of reborrowing funds will rise above the returns being earned on asset investments.

  • Reinvestment risk- the risk that the returns of funds to be reinvested will fall below the cost of funds.

  • Liquidity risk: the risk that a sudden surge in liability withdrawals may leave a bank in a position of having to liquidate assets in a very short period of time and at low prices

  • Price risk: the risk incurred in the trading of assets and liabilities due to changes in interest rates, exchange rates, and other asset prices

  • Foreign exchange risk: the risk that exchange rate changes can affect the value of a bank’s assets and liabilities located abroad.

  • Operational risk: the risk that existing technology or support systems may malfunction or break down

  • Various factors that affect banks include;

  • Market constraints: a bank’s growth and profitability is limited by the growth rate of the economy and competition of other financial institutions

  • Social constraints: e.g.) The Community Reinvestment Act – facilitate the availability of mortgage loans and other types of loans to all qualified applicants regardless of race, gender or nationality

  • Legal and regulatory constraints: Constraints on entry, balance sheet composition (minimum capital requirements), geographic expansion, customer relationships (consumer protection laws)

  • The constraints on commercial banks:

  • are the result of the banking collapse of the 1930’s

  • affect the price and allocation of bank credit

  • are designed to reduce risk of failure

  • Banks are regulated in order to:

The size and market share of financial institutions

  • The approximate number of banks as of 1999 in the United States is 8,000

  • Banks are the dominant financial institution in the U.S. based on the percentage of total assets ($4 trillion or 24% of the total financial sector in the U.S.).

  • Federally related mortgage pools are second largest ($2 trillion or 12%).

  • Life insurance are third largest (11%).

  • Other significant organizations include savings institutions, money market funds, mutual funds, and asset-backed security issuers.

  • However, commercial banks shrank from 34% in 1980 to 24% in 1997.

What factors have affected the operations of commercial banks and other financial service organizations?

  • Rising funding costs

  • Rising interest rates caused shorter-term deposit costs to rise faster than longer-term loans. Also, as rates rose, the market value of their assets declined and borrowers defaulted on loans with greater frequency than normal.

  • Between 1980 and 1994, 9.14% of the total number of banks (more than 1,600) in the U.S. failed

  • Securitization:

  • Securitization refers to the process of turning unmarketable and illiquid assets (usually loans) into marketable and liquid securities.

  • It provides the bank with a mechanism to sell small loans packaged together that might have been difficult to sell separately

  • Banks are pooling loans for various kinds and selling securities with claims on these loans.

  • Securities sold in the open market in order to raise new funds that may be cheaper and more reliable

  • Technological advances:

  • Bank faced with higher operating costs have turned toward automation an electronic networks to replace labor-based production systems.

  • Telecommunications and computers are increasing economies of scale and economies of scope for banks.

  • Deregulation:

  • The elimination of laws that placed geographic limits on banks and restricted products, services, and the rates they can pay has stimulated bank mergers and consolidation in the banking industry

  • 14,400 banks in 1985 compared to 8,500 banks in 2000

  • 25 % of total deposits are controlled by 42 banks in 1984, but by 6 banks in 1999

  • Competition

  • all depository institutions are now allowed to offer transactions accounts

  • the expansion of services offered by financial and nonfinancial conglomerates

  • the elimination of deposit rate ceilings

  • The competitive pressures have acted as a spur to develop more services for the future

  • Global integration of financial markets increases competition from foreign financial service firms, and involves the increasing links between U. S. and foreign markets

What are the principal sources and uses of funds for banks?

  • The two principal bank assets:

  • Loans: real estate loans, commercial and industrial (C&I) loans, consumer loans; The two largest categories of bank loans are business and real estate loans.

  • Investments: short-term, liquid securities (e.g., U.S. Treasury securities), long-term securities

  • Banks make most of their income from loans. In recent years they have shown a strong preference for real estate loans. This is due in part to the declining role of savings and loan associations.

  • A major inference we can draw from this asset structure is that default exposure is a major risk faced by modern commercial bank managers

  • Liabilities: principal liabilities are deposits.

  • Transactions accounts (i.e. demand deposits and checking accounts) account for about 18% of total deposits.

  • The significance of transaction accounts has diminished as other financial institutions have offered these types of accounts in competition with commercial banks.

  • Maturity mismatch or interest risk and liquidity risk are key exposure concerns for bank managers

  • Equity

  • Relatively small (8%) compared to debt sources of funds. Highly leveraged compared to nonfinancial firms.

  • Bank earnings increase dramatically during periods of prosperity; economic declines can lead to the failure of a large number of banks

Bank Profitability

  • Bank profitability is determined primarily by the state of the economy that it serves. If the economy is doing well, banks will prosper. The ability to repay loans is directly related to economic conditions.

  • Risk is a major factor affecting expected profits. Higher risks suggest higher expected profits. That worked fine for banks in the late 1990s because of the strong economy.

  • In addition, banks have turned increasingly to fee income in both business and consumer accounts. Finally, they have become more efficient in terms of their internal operations.

  • Profitability increased in the banking industry, while the number of bank failures declined in the 1990s.

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