Managing Liquidity Risk in Times of Stress
Historically, liquidity risk has been the poor cousin of market risk and credit risk. While the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 first pushed the issue of liquidity risk to the forefront of attention, the most recent market dislocation due to the COVID-19 pandemic has once again highlighted the salient significance of the topic. This is particularly so for institutional investment managers who have to meet margin calls, perform regular fund rebalancing, execute redemptions, among other potentially liquidity-threatening activities. Failure to afford liquidity risk management the focus and priority jeopardizes the health of an institution, perhaps fatally so.

In the worst days of the recent COVID-19 sell-off, some instruments witnessed their biggest price movements in three decades, and initial and variation margin spiralled higher. Recent data released by the Bank of England shows that in March the daily variation margin calls by UK central counterparties were up to five times higher than seen in January and February.

Proper evaluation and provision of liquidity risk is not a quick fix; it requires diligent contemplation of needs, and a reliable partnership with the right technology and data provider. But, by doing so, liquidity risk management is place on a par with credit and market risk management – where it deserves to be. It shouldn’t be left to rudimentary methodologies and chance any more. COVID-19 has reshaped many of our previously firmly held beliefs about life and the workplace; it might also be the case that it has justly refocused attention upon the pressing need to tackle liquidity risk management.

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Case Studies

New Zealand Superfund Takes an Advanced Approach to Credit & Liquidity Risk Management

New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) is the sovereign wealth fund of NZ. It’s purpose is to help pre-fund the future pension/superannuation liabilities of an increasingly aging NZ population. Since it was established in 2001, the Fund has grown in size to NZD 45 billion. It is a long-term, growth-oriented fund that invests globally, both directly and through external managers, into a wide range of asset classes and investment products.


The Impact of COVID-19 on Credit Markets

The COVID-19 (C19) pandemic has severely affected global markets, causing economic disruption at an unprecedented speed and on a hitherto unknown scale. News of the virus first appeared in late December 2019 and by mid-January reports emerged that it was no longer contained within China. With the spread of the virus accelerating by mid-March 2020, the US economy has been severely impacted and there are understandable concerns about the damage caused to the worldwide economy.


Identifying Liquidity Risk for Financial Stability

The global financial crisis highlighted the importance of liquidity in functioning financial markets. Pre-2008, market participants received easy access to readily available funding and were ill-prepared for events that transpired during the credit crisis. Failure to adequately assess and manage liquidity underpinned major market turmoil, triggering unprecedented liquidity events and the ultimate demise of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions previously thought too big to fail.

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