Determinants of US financial fragility conditions
The recent financial crisis has highlighted the fragility of the US (and other countries') financial system under several respects. In this paper, the properties of a summary index of financial fragility, obtained by combining information conveyed by the "Agency", "Ted" and "BAA-AAA" spreads, timely capturing changes in credit and liquidity risk, distress in the mortgage market, and corporate default risk, are investigated over the 1986-2010 period. The empirical results show that observed fluctuations in the financial fragility index can be attributed to identified (global and domestic) macroeconomic (20%) and financial disturbances (40% to 50%), over both short- and long-term horizons, as well as to oil-supply shocks in the long-term (25%). The investigation of specific episodes of financial distress, occurred in 1987, 1998 and 2000, and, more recently, over the 2007-2009 period, shows that sizable fluctuations in the index are largely determined by financial shocks, while macroeconomic disturbances have generally had a stabilizing effect.
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