Realizing the Impact of Unrealized Losses

November 08, 2023

This chart description is for illustrative purposes only and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Please see full disclosures at end of PDF document in the web post. General description: Combination stacked column and line chart comparing unrealized gains/losses with effective federal funds rate. Chart subtitle: Unrealized losses across depository institutions have increased in recent quarters thanks to higher interest rates. Chart source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis as of June 30, 2023. Chart description: Left Y-axis is labeled “Unrealized Gains/Losses” and ranges from -$800B to +$800B, corresponding to stacked columns. Right Y-axis is labeled “Rate” and ranges from -6% to +6%, corresponding to line. X-axis ranges from 1Q08 to 2Q23; labels are at 3-quarter increments to fit so last label is for 1Q23. Available-For-Sale Securities are plotted in dark green base of stacked columns; Held-To-Maturity Securities are plotted in lighter green as second half of column. Effect Federal Funds Rate line is plotted in light blue. Unrealized losses are at significant levels for chart losses; since the fed funds rate has increased since 1Q22, losses have totaled over $300B. Most recent datapoints, as of 2Q23 are as follows: Available-For-Sale Securities at -$248.9B, Held-To-Maturity Securities at -$309.6B, and Effective Federal Funds Rate at 5.3%. Please contact us for the full dataset. End chart description. See disclosures at end of document.

Earlier this year, the regional banking crisis and eventual collapses of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, First Republic Bank, and Silvergate Bank highlighted issues related to bank assets (e.g., U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities) sharply losing value due to higher interest rates. In many of these cases, uninsured depositors learned of growing unrealized losses at the institutions in question and feared the worst (i.e., that banks would become insolvent and pull deposits). Unfortunately, the story of declining bank asset values is relevant not only to uninsured regional banks, but to FDIC-insured depository institutions as well. To that point, the most recently published FDIC Quarterly Banking Profile highlighted growing unrealized losses across these institutions. Specifically, unrealized losses on securities totaled $558.4 billion in the second quarter of 2023, which represents an increase of $42.9 billion from the previous period. Rate hikes have certainly exacerbated these figures, as current losses are more than two standard deviations removed from the average levels exhibited since the Global Financial Crisis. An understanding of the implications of increased losses across different security types (e.g., available-for-sale vs. held-to-maturity) can be particularly useful. Notably, while held-to-maturity securities are reported as noncurrent assets on a company’s financial statements and earned interest income appears on a company’s income statement, changes in the prices of these securities are not reflected on the income statement if the securities have maturities longer than one year. As a result, some financial metrics (e.g., earnings) of certain banks may be somewhat overstated at present.

Even today, interest rates continue to chip away at the value of bank assets, and additional upward pressure on rates may strain bank profitability as held-to-maturity securities approach maturity. Banks will be hoping that the end of the current rate hiking cycle comes before these losses make their way to the income statement, which could cause many to question the health of various institutions. On a positive note, the FOMC announced during its most recent meeting that it would be holding its policy rate at a constant level, which may assuage some investor concerns related to this topic. Marquette will continue to monitor the impact of interest rates on the banking sector and the overall economy.

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The opinions expressed herein are those of Marquette Associates, Inc. (“Marquette”), and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to purchase or sell any product. Marquette reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

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