Federal Housing Finance AgencyOffice of Inspector GeneralRecent Trends in Federal HomeLoan Bank Advances to JPMorganChase and Other Large BanksEvaluation Report EVL-2014-006 April 16, 2014
Recent Trends in Federal Home Loan Bank Advances toJPMorgan Chase and Other Large BanksWhy OIG Did This ReportAt AGlance———April 16, 2014The Federal Home Loan Bank System (System) is comprised of 12 regionalFederal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) and the Office of Finance. TheFHLBanks make secured loans, known as advances, to their members and doso primarily to promote housing finance. After peaking at about 1 trillion in2008, advances declined 62% to 381 billion by March 2012. However, sincethen, advances have climbed to nearly 500 billion primarily due to advancesto the four largest members of the System: JPMorgan Chase, Bank ofAmerica, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. From March 31, 2012, to December 31,2013, advances to these four System members surged by 158% to 135 billion.This report identifies potential causes for the surge in advances to the fourlargest members, identifies the associated benefits and risks, and assesses theFederal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA/Agency) oversight of this area.OIG Analysis and FindingNew Bank Liquidity Standards Contributed to the Recent Surge in AdvancesAccording to officials from FHFA and an FHLBank as well as Agencydocuments, the surge in advances to the four largest members is attributable,in large part, to bank liquidity standards established by the international BaselCommittee on Bank Supervision in December 2010. Under these standards,banks, such as JPMorgan Chase, must increase their holdings of high qualityliquid assets, such as U.S. Treasury securities, to improve their ability towithstand sudden financial and economic stress. The officials said that largemembers of the System recently drew FHLBank advances, in part, to purchasethe investment securities necessary to meet the new liquidity standards.In written responses to our inquiries, two of the four largest System membersconfirmed that the new liquidity standards contributed to their increased useof advances. An official from another large System member said the liquiditystandards influenced its use of advances but did not say the standards increasedtheir borrowing. The remaining member bank did not respond to our inquiries.Potential Benefits and Risks of Large Members’ Advance GrowthThe benefits of the surge in advances to the four largest members include anincrease in interest income that FHLBanks earn from making advances.Further, FHFA defines all advances as “core housing mission assets.” Thus,increased advances could address FHFA’s concerns about the relatively highlevel of System investments in “non-core” housing mission assets, such asmortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.The risks include the significant losses an FHLBank could incur if a largemember defaults on its advances, particularly if the advances were improperly
collateralized or the value of the collateral had declined significantly. FHFAofficials emphasized that FHLBank advances for the purpose of meeting recentliquidity requirements are legal and not inconsistent with the System’smission. However, they noted that this practice could create an “image risk.”That is, the public might question the FHLBanks’ commitment to their housingmission upon learning that large member banks may be using advances topurchase investment securities to meet liquidity standards.At AGlance———April 16, 2014FHFA Prioritized Advances to Large Members in its 2013 ExaminationsFHFA officials said that the surge in advances to large members and theassociated safety and soundness risks were a priority during the 2013 annualexamination cycle and will remain so in 2014. After reviewing FHFA’s2013 examination documents, we determined that FHFA had covered theFHLBanks’ management of risks associated with increasing advances to largemembers. In one examination, FHFA concluded that an FHLBank had failedto properly manage the relatively high-risk collateral pledged by one of thefour large System members; and the Agency issued a supervisory directive tocorrect the deficiency by March 2014.Finding: FHFA Can Enhance Transparency about Recent Advance TrendsWhile FHFA prioritized FHLBank advances to large members in 2013, webelieve the trend presents a number of questions and implications, including: Will the surge in advances continue, and will it spread to othermembers, or has the trend already peaked? How effectively are the FHLBanks managing the advanceconcentration and other risks associated with such advances? What are the implications for the System’s ability to achieve itshousing mission if member banks increasingly draw advances tohelp meet their liquidity requirements?As the FHLBanks’ regulator, FHFA routinely collects and assessesinformation and data about the FHLBanks’ advance business.In our view, FHFA could enhance awareness and understanding of FHLBankadvances across the government, financial industry, and the general publicthrough its established reporting processes or the issuance of a special report.Such action would render more transparent the System’s operations, its overallsafety and soundness, and its success in achieving its housing mission.What OIG RecommendsWe recommend that FHFA publicly report on FHLBank advances to large andother members in 2014, emphasizing the consistency of such advances with thesafety and soundness of the System, as well as its housing mission. FHFAagreed with this recommendation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS .RECENT TRENDS IN FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANK ADVANCES TOJPMORGAN CHASE AND OTHER LARGE BANKS .2ABBREVIATIONS .6PREFACE .7CONTEXT .9Bank Holding Companies May Own Subsidiaries that Belong to Multiple FHLBankDistricts .9FHLBanks Have Significantly Increased Advances to the Four Largest SystemMembers since Early 2012 .11Surging FHLBank Advances to the Four Largest System Members Contrastswith Generally Flat Advances to All Other Members .12Concentration of FHLBank Advances to Four Largest Members Has IncreasedSignificantly .13Basel III Liquidity Requirements Contributed to the Surge in FHLBank Advances .14JPMorgan Chase’s Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission alsoIndicate that it Used Advances to Meet Basel III Requirements .16Views of Officials from Three of the Four Largest System Members .16DBR Officials Believe “Deposit Run Off” May Have Contributed to Growth ofAdvances to Other Members in the Fourth Quarter of 2013 .16Benefits and Risks Associated with the Surge in FHLBank Advances to LargeMembers .17Potential Benefits .17Potential Risks .19FHFA Prioritized FHLBank Advances to Large Members in its 2013 ExaminationOversight Process .20FINDING .22FHFA Can Make Recent FHLBank Advance Trends More Transparent .22OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 20144
CONCLUSION .23RECOMMENDATION .23OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND METHODOLOGY .24ATTACHMENT A .25Large Member Responses to OIG Questions about Their Use of System Advances .25APPENDIX A .27FHFA’s Comments on FHFA-OIG’s Findings and Recommendation .27ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND COPIES .29OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 20145
ABBREVIATIONS .DBRFederal Housing Finance Agency Division of Federal Home Loan BankRegulationFHFA or AgencyFederal Housing Finance AgencyFHLBankFederal Home Loan BankHQLAHigh Quality Liquid AssetsLCRLiquidity Coverage RatioLIBORLondon Interbank Offered RateMBSMortgage-Backed SecuritiesMRAMatter Requiring AttentionOIGFederal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector GeneralPLMBSPrivate Label Mortgage-Backed SecuritiesSystemFederal Home Loan Bank SystemOIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 20146
PREFACE .The FHLBank System was established in 1932. Its primary mission is to support housingfinance in the United States. The System’s 12 regional FHLBanks support housing financeprimarily by making secured loans, called advances, to member financial institutions, such asbanks, thrifts, credit unions, and insurance companies.1 The members can use the proceeds tooriginate mortgages or for other purposes.The System raises the funds necessary to make advances through debt issuances, known asconsolidated obligations, administered by its Office of Finance. As a government-sponsoredenterprise, the System can issue consolidated obligations at relatively favorable interest ratesand other terms compared to other for-profit corporations.2 In turn, FHLBanks may passalong the associated savings to their members in the form of relatively low interest rates onadvances.System advances peaked in 2008, during the financial crisis, at about 1 trillion, but droppedby about 62% to 381 billion as of March 31, 2012. Since then, however, System advanceshave been increasing, reaching 492 billion by yearend 2013. This growth in advances hasbeen driven primarily by a surge in some FHLBanks’ advances to the four largest members ofthe System: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo.3This evaluation report provides information and analysis on recent trends in some FHLBanks’advances to the System’s large bank members. Specifically, it: Describes how bank holding company subsidiaries, such as those of JPMorganChase, may be members of multiple FHLBank districts and, thereby, obtainadvances from more than one FHLBank;1FHLBank assets must be secured by eligible collateral, such as single-family mortgages or investment gradesecurities, among other assets.2The federal government does not explicitly guarantee the System’s consolidated obligations, but creditors,and other financial participants have traditionally assumed that there is an “implied” federal guarantee on them.Thus, creditors have traditionally loaned money to the System on terms more favorable than those offered tofor-profit corporations without implicit guarantees, which are viewed as presenting a higher risk of default. Formore information, see FHFA-OIG, FHFA’s Oversight of Troubled Federal Home Loan Banks, EVL-2012-001,January 11, 2012, nks%20EVL-2012-001.pdf.3The growth in FHLBank advances to JPMorgan Chase was cited in recent articles in the financial press.See “JPMorgan Taps Taxpayer Backed Banks for Bailout,” Bloomberg, October 10, 2013 (online l).OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 20147
Documents the growth in advances to the four largest members of the System fromearly 2012 to yearend 2013;4 Discusses the role played by recently adopted liquidity standards in the growth ofthese advances; Identifies some of the benefits and risks associated with the surge in advances tolarge members; and Assesses FHFA’s oversight of FHLBanks’ management of the risks associatedwith these advances during 2013.Finally, this report recommends that FHFA publicly report on FHLBank advances to largeand other members in 2014, emphasizing the consistency of such advances with the safety andsoundness of the System, as well as its housing mission.This report was prepared by Wesley Phillips, Director, Omolola Anderson, Senior Statistician,Nicole Mathers, Program Specialist, and Irene Porter, Program Analyst. We appreciate thecooperation of all those who contributed to this effort.The report has been distributed to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, andothers, and will be posted on OIG’s website, www.fhfaoig.gov.Richard ParkerDeputy Inspector General for Evaluations4In the report context section that follows, we note that the four largest bank holding companies are notthemselves members at the individual FHLBanks. Rather, each has multiple subsidiaries operating in severalFHLBank districts. For presentational purposes, we refer to each of these entities as a “System member.”OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 20148
CONTEXT .Bank Holding Companies May Own Subsidiaries that Belong to Multiple FHLBankDistrictsThe Federal Home Loan Bank Act (FHLBank Act)5 provides that an eligible institution, suchas a bank or thrift, may become a member of only one of the 12 FHLBank districts in whichits principal business is located.6 See Figure 1 (the 12 FHLBank districts). According toFHFA, there were 7,504 members of the System as of December 31, 2013.FIGURE 1. LOCATIONS OF THE 12 FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANKSSource: FHFA.Nevertheless, bank and thrift holding companies may own subsidiaries situated in severalFHLBank districts, and each eligible7 subsidiary may become a member of the FHLBank inthe district in which it is situated. According to FHFA, approximately 49 financial companiescurrently operate in two or more FHLBank districts through separately chartered subsidiaries.5See 12 U.S.C. § 1424, Section 4, Eligibility for Membership.6The institution may become a member of an adjoining district with approval from FHFA.7To become a member of an FHLBank, a subsidiary of a bank or thrift must be a separately charteredinstitution, such as a national bank or a state-chartered thrift.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 20149
The bank holding companies for JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, andCitigroup each have multiple subsidiaries operating in several FHLBank districts. SeeFigure 2. These four holding companies are also the largest members of the System asmeasured by the total advances held by their subsidiaries.FIGURE 2. ADVANCES HELD BY FOUR LARGEST BANK HOLDING COMPANIES’ SUBSIDIARIESAS OF DECEMBER 31, 2013District Membershipsby Holding CompanyJPMorgan ChasePittsburghCincinnatiChicagoSan Francisco†SeattleBank of America Corp.BostonAtlantaSan Francisco†SeattleCitigroupNew YorkDes Moines8†DallasSan FranciscoWells FargoDes MoinesDallas†San FranciscoTotalAdvances ( Millions)% of Holding Company’sTotal Advances 61,831 9,975 41,700 4,100 5,960 96 28,938 98 17,263 7,750 3,827 25,202 22,200 0 1 3,001 19,141 19,000 0 141 s the FHLBank districts in which a subsidiary of the holding company still has an advance balance but isno longer a member. The subsidiary may not take out any new advances from the FHLBank.Source: FHFA.8A subsidiary of Citigroup maintained an active membership in Des Moines during the time period covered bythe table. In January 2014 the subsidiary withdrew its membership with FHLBank of Des Moines.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 201410
FHLBanks Have Significantly Increased Advances to the Four Largest System Memberssince Early 2012FIGURE 3. COMBINED FHLBANK SYSTEM ADVANCES TOJPMORGAN CHASE, WELLS FARGO, CITIBANK, ANDBANK OF AMERICA 160,000 140,000 MillionsFHLBank advances to the fourlargest System members – theholding company subsidiaries ofJPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo,Citibank and Bank of America –collectively increased by 158% to 135 billion between March 30,2012, and December 31, 2013. SeeFigure 3. 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000While advances to each of the four 40,000largest System members have 20,000increased significantly since early2012, JPMorgan Chase and Wells 0Mar 12 Jun 12 Sep 12 Dec 12 Mar 13 Jun 13 Sep 13 Dec 13Fargo accounted for the fastestgrowth. See Figure 4. They grewSource: FHFA. Data in table represents the total combined advancesat triple digit rates while Bank ofof JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America, and allAmerica and Citigroup increasedof their subsidiaries throughout the FHLBank system.at double digit rates. Further,JPMorgan Chase’s increase in advances of 48 billion accounted for the majority (59%) ofthe total increase of nearly 83 billion in advances to the four System members during theperiod.FIGURE 4. COMPOSITION OF FHLBANK SYSTEM ADVANCES TO THE FOUR LARGEST SYSTEM MEMBERS( MILLIONS)Holding CompanyJPMorgan ChaseWells FargoBank of AmericaCitigroupTop 4 TotalAs ofMarch 31,2012 13,259 2,552 20,036 16,508 52,356As ofDecember31, 2013 61,831 19,141 28,938 25,202 135,115 Change 48,572 16,589 8,902 8,694 82,756% Change366%650%44%53%158%% ofChange inAdvancesto Top 459%20%11%11%100%Source: FHFA. Numbers may not add exactly due to rounding.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 201411
Surging FHLBank Advances to the Four Largest System Members Contrasts withGenerally Flat Advances to All Other MembersThe surge in advances to the four largest System members contrasts sharply with the relativelystable rate at which advances were made to the other approximately 7,500 FHLBank membersover the same period, i.e., March 31, 2012, to December 31, 2013. See Figure 5. Whileadvances to the four largest bank members increased by 158% over this period, advances to otherSystem members rose by just 9%. Conclusively, the growth in advances to the four largestmembers was primarily responsible for the 29% increase (from 381 billion to 492 billion)9 inoverall System advances during this 21-month period.10FIGURE 5. CHANGE IN FHLBANK SYSTEM ADVANCES TO THE FOUR LARGEST BANK MEMBERS VERSUSOTHER MEMBERS ( MILLIONS)System MemberAs ofMarch 31,2012As ofDecember 31,2013 Change% ChangeTop 4 52,356 135,112 82,756158%Others 328,280 357,329 29,0499%FHLBank System Total 380,636 492,444 111,80829%Source: FHFA. Numbers may not add exactly due to rounding.We note that the 9% increase in advances to other members occurred entirely in the last threemonths of 2013. Between March 31, 2012, and September 30, 2013, advances to Systemmembers apart from the top four actually declined by 1%. According to FHFA data, thegrowth in advances during the fourth quarter of 2013 was largely attributable to Systemmembers other than the four largest.119The advance totals presented are at par value. The par value of an advance is the amount of funds that theborrower owes the FHLBank after various accounting adjustments are made to the book value. The bookvalue – the value at which an asset is carried on a balance sheet – of System advances was 498.6 billion atDecember 31, 2013.10System advances increased by 111.8 billion over this period. Advances to the top four System membersaccounted for 82.8 billion, or 74%, of this total increase. The growth in advances that began in early 2012reversed a System-wide decline that began in 2008 after advances peaked at about 1 trillion.11FHFA data indicate that the growth in advances during the fourth quarter extended to System members otherthan the four largest, which are the focus of this evaluation report. The reasons for this increase are not clear,but several, including “depositor run-off” and Basel III requirements, are discussed in the next section of thisevaluation report.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 201412
Concentration of FHLBank Advances to Four Largest Members Has IncreasedSignificantlyAs these four largest members have increased their total advances, they have also increasedtheir relative share of all System advances. In other words, more of the Systems’ totaladvances have been concentrated in the four largest members. As of December 31, 2013,JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America accounted for 27% of totalSystem advances, compared to 14% on March 31, 2012.FHLBank of Cincinnati’s advances toa JPMorgan Chase subsidiary in itsdistrict represented the most significantconcentration of advances to a topmember. At the end of the second quarterof 2012, the FHLBank’s advances ofabout 4 billion to the JPMorgan Chasesubsidiary accounted for 11.6% of all itsadvances. However, by yearend 2013such advances accounted for 64% of all ofthe FHLBank’s advances to its members.See Figure 6.FIGURE 6. COMPOSITION OF ADVANCES AT THEFHLBANK OF CINCINNATI, AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2013JPMorgan ChaseBank26%3%7%U.S.Bank64%The HuntingtonNational BankOther MembersSource: FHFA.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 201413
Basel III Liquidity Requirements Contributed to the Surge in FHLBank AdvancesAccording to officials from FHFA’s Division ofFederal Home Loan Bank Regulation (DBR) andan FHLBank12 as well as Agency internal records,13some large FHLBank members have increased theiruse of advances as part of an overall strategy tocomply with regulatory requirements establishedby the international Basel Committee on BankSupervision14 (the Committee).15 In December2010 the Committee issued what is known as theBasel III accord (Basel III).16Basel Committee on BankSupervision: The Basel Committee isthe primary global standard-setter forthe prudential regulation of banks andprovides a forum for cooperation onbanking supervisory matters. Itsmandate is to strengthen theregulation, supervision, and practicesof banks worldwide with the purposeof enhancing financial stability.Among other things, Basel III establishesinternational liquidity requirements17 forcommercial banks to help ensure financial stability.To meet these liquidity standards, banks may haveto increase their holdings of high quality liquidassets, such as U.S. Treasury securities. FHFA andFHLBank officials said that bank members mayuse FHLBank advances as a source of funds topurchase Treasury or similar high quality liquidLiquidity Requirements: The Basel IIIliquidity requirements are intended toensure that commercial banks arefiscally stable and responsible in theevent of a future financial crisis.Banks are directed to increase theirliquidity via obtaining high qualityliquid assets, such as cash and U.S.Treasury securities.12Officials from another FHLBank that had recently increased its advances to a large System member said thatit was not their policy to inquire about the use to which their members put their advances.13We note that determining how FHLBank members use advances is challenging. Financial institutions usevarious sources to fund their operations, and tracing the uses to which specific funds are put is difficult.Nevertheless, the sources cited in this report, and the analysis of the information provided by them, indicate thatthe requirements set forth in Basel III have likely played a significant role in the surge of FHLBank advances tothe four largest members of the System.14See Bank for International Settlements website. http://www.bis.org/bcbs/about.htm.15Moody’s Investors Services has also observed that banks may draw on FHLBank advances to meet Basel IIIrequirements. See FHLBank System, FAQ, August 1, 2013.16Each country that belongs to the Committee is responsible for enacting laws or regulations that implement itsstandards, such as Basel III liquidity requirements.17For more information regarding the Basel III liquidity requirements, see the Bank for InternationalSettlements website. http://www.bis.org/publ/bcbs238.htm.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 201414
securities and hold them on their balance sheets in order to meet the liquidity standards.18 SeeFigure 7.FIGURE 7. EXAMPLE OF HOW A BANK MAY SATISFY LIQUIDITY REQUIREMENTS THROUGH FHLBANKADVANCESSource: OIG Analysis.DBR officials also emphasized that the FHLBanks did not violate the law by extendingadvances to their large commercial bank members that, in turn, used the proceeds to purchaseU.S. Treasury securities to comply with Basel III’s requirements. They observed thatFHLBanks are authorized to make advances to their members consistent with collateralrequirements, lending limits, and other statutory, regulatory, and internal standards. The DBRofficials also noted that there are no restrictions on the uses to which members may put theproceeds of advances other than those that already exist in law and regulation.18According to the Bank for International Settlement’s January 2013 publication entitled “Basel III: TheLiquidity Coverage Ratio and liquidity risk monitoring tools,” the purpose of the liquidity requirements is toensure that banks have sufficient high quality liquid assets (HQLA) to meet their liquidity needs for at least 30days in the event of a stress scenario such as the 2008 financial crisis. Such HQLAs may consist of cash orassets that can readily be converted into cash in private markets. See http://www.bis.org/publ/bcbs238.pdf, p.4,item 16.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 201415
JPMorgan Chase’s Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission also Indicatethat it Used Advances to Meet Basel III RequirementsWe reviewed JPMorgan Chase’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).They suggest that Basel III liquidity requirements have played a role in its recent large drawsof FHLBank advances.19 In its December 2012 annual financial statement, JPMorgan Chasereported that efforts were underway to fully comply with the new Basel III liquidityrequirements by the end of 2013. JPMorgan Chase describes FHLBank advances as one ofseveral sources available to provide funding. It also subsequently reported a 53% increasein its holdings of high quality liquid assets such as U.S. Treasury securities in a matter of ayear – from 341 billion at December 31, 2012, to 522 billion at December 31, 2013 –during the period it drew 48.6 billion in FHLBank advances.Views of Officials from Three of the Four Largest System MembersWe spoke with officials from three of the four largest members of the System regarding theirincreased use of FHLBank advances since early 2012.20 Officials from two of these threebanks confirmed in writing that Basel III’s liquidity requirements contributed to theirincreased use of FHLBank advances.21 In fact, officials from one of the banks said that theBasel III requirements were the “primary driver” for its increased use of advances. 22An official from the third bank said that Basel III’s liquidity requirements may influenceits use of advances. However, the official did not specifically state that the liquidityrequirements directly contributed to the bank’s increased FHLBank borrowing since early2012.DBR Officials Believe “Deposit Run Off” May Have Contributed to Growth of Advancesto Other Members in the Fourth Quarter of 2013DBR officials also noted that the significant increase in advances to members other than thelargest four during the fourth quarter of 2013 may have been due, in part, to deposit run off atmember institutions. That is, since the members’ depositors were earning low rates, they may19JPMorgan Chase & Co., 2012 Annual Report, Dec. 31, 2012, p. 71 and108, from JPMorgan Chase & Coinvestor relations website, iling.cfm?filingID 19617-13-221and JPMorgan Chase & Co., 2013 Quarterly Report, September 30, 2013, p. 68 and ecfiling.cfm?filingID 19617-13-400.20Officials from one of the four largest members did not respond to our requests for information about its use ofadvances.21We do not disclose the identities of these banks so as to facilitate their willingness to speak with us.22See Appendix A for the complete text of the banks’ responses to our questions.OIG EVL-2014-006 April 16, 201416
have withdrawn some of their funds and reinvested them in the stock market where returnswere higher. This, in turn, may have caused the members to increase their advances to helpfund their own operations. However, DBR officials said that the growth in advances to thesemembers in fourth quarter of 2013 may also be attributable to their efforts to meet Basel III’srequirements.Benefits and Risks Associated with the Surge in FHLBank Advances to Large MembersOur discussions with officials from FHFA and the FHLBanks identified both benefits andrisks associated with the recent s
Recent Trends in Federal Home Loan Bank Advances to JPMorgan Chase and Other Large Banks Why OIG Did This Report The Federal Home Loan Bank System (System) is comprised of 12 regional Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) and the Office of Finance. The FHLBanks make secured loans, known as advances, to their members and do
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