An official website of the United States government
News Release 2011-149
December 16, 2011
Share This Page:
WASHINGTON—Commercial banks reported trading revenue of $13.1 billion in the third quarter of 2011, 78 percent higher than the $7.4 billion in the second quarter, and 214 percent higher than in the third quarter of 2010, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reported today in the OCC's Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities.
"The headline revenue numbers are misleading," said Martin Pfinsgraff, Deputy Comptroller for Credit and Market Risk. "It was technically a record quarter for trading revenues, but an unusually large contribution from hedging gains on mortgage servicing assets combined with revenues from increases in banks’ own credit spreads distorted results." Mr. Pfinsgraff noted that gains or losses from hedges of mortgage servicing assets (MSAs) and changes in the value of derivatives liabilities are not part of core trading operations. "The gains from MSA hedges simply offset MSA losses reported elsewhere in the income statement, and we don’t consider income from increases in the banks’ own credit spreads to be real revenues. Adjusting for these reporting anomalies, revenues in the third quarter were lower by about $8 billion from the reported numbers. The uncertainty associated with the European credit crisis and slowing global growth caused a more noticeable decline in client activity than usually occurs," said Mr. Pfinsgraff. "Given the environment, both banks and their clients were less willing to take risk."
The OCC reported that net current credit exposure (NCCE), the primary metric the OCC uses to measure credit risk in derivatives activities, increased $141 billion, or 39 percent, to $504 billion during the third quarter. Mr. Pfinsgraff noted that "the concerns about European credit quality led to a sharp decline in market interest rates. That caused not only the large MSA hedge gains, but it also pushed credit exposures materially higher." Mr. Pfinsgraff also noted that the NCCE figure in the third quarter was the fourth highest credit exposure number on record, trailing only the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first two quarters of 2009, at the height of the financial crisis. "These credit exposure numbers are very large, but it is important to understand that 64 percent of the exposure is collateralized." Mr. Pfinsgraff added that the coverage of NCCE was down from 71 percent in the second quarter, due to counterparties managing their collateral more aggressively, and removing collateral in excess of contractual requirements. The report shows that the notional amount of derivatives held by insured U.S. commercial banks fell by $1.4 trillion (0.6 percent) from the second quarter to $248 trillion. Interest rate contracts decreased $2.5 trillion (one percent) to $202 trillion, while FX contracts increased one percent to $26.8 trillion.
The report also noted that:
A copy of the OCC's Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities: Third Quarter 2011 is available on the OCC's website.
Dean DeBuck (202) 874-5770