NEW YORK, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Trying to navigate through global market stresses is like “whack-a-mole,” Citigroup Inc (C.N) CEO Jane Fraser said on Friday, as she added the bank is constantly stress testing scenarios.
Wall Street banking executives said they were keeping a close watch on markets, after the volatility in the U.K., with liquidity a particular focus.
The UK government’s “mini-Budget” on Sept. 23 triggered some of the biggest ever jumps in UK government bond yields and triggered a crisis among pension funds needing to find cash. That shook broader markets with U.S. yields surging along with those on British government debt.
“We’re constantly doing different stress tests on the market, on clients on different areas,” Fraser said on the bank’s earnings call.
Fraser said she was “more focused on the liquidity in the market at the moment and the impact on some counterparties much more than we are on our credit risk.”
Europe “is at the centre of the storm” with continued energy supply constraints impacting some clients, Fraser said.
Some clients are being buffeted by intense volatility, for example in the UK pension trauma, she said, where so-called Liability Driven Investment (LDI) funds were at the center of the storm.
“So, we look at what’s the collateral behind different institutions, as we had done that with commodity players earlier this year and some of the LDIs and if we see different stresses we are jumping on it,” Fraser said.
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) CEO Jamie Dimon said the problems with LDIs could cause issues down the road but so far was “a bump in the road.”
However he said that JPMorgan monitors a range of metrics from U.S. Treasury issuance and mortgage issuance to bid-ask spreads in the treasury markets.
“I do think you see volatile markets. You already see very low liquidity.”
However, Dimon said that the banking system itself is “extraordinarily strong.”
Fraser added that large global institutions like Citi had a role in supporting the market as it was in a strong capital position.
“We’re in a position to be able to jump in and play an important role,” she said. “But it’s a bit of whack-a-mole, I would say.”
Reporting by Saeed Azhar, Mehnaz Yasmin and Megan Davies; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama
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