Over a distinguished 40-year career as an academician in finance, Darrell Duffie has made important contributions to our collective understanding of how markets work. Earning a PhD from Stanford in 1984, Darrell has taught finance there ever since and now serves as the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management and Professor of Finance at the Graduate School of Business. Along the way he has written several books, authored countless papers and provided guidance to policymakers who have sought his counsel in addressing complex regulatory questions.
We review some of Darrell’s research over the past 4 decades, starting with equilibrium models of asset pricing in the 80’s, termstructure models in the 90’s and work on default correlation post the GFC. We spend most of our time on his recent research on the US Treasury market, that risk-free asset class that recently appears anything but. Darrell shares some conclusions from analysis of the melt-down of the bond market in March of 2020 and the policy implications that result. First, he states that yield volatility explains a large proportion of the breakdown of liquidity in what should be the world’s most liquid asset class. Higher vol and compromised liquidity generally go hand in hand. Darrell and colleagues show that the bond market freeze could further be traced to dealers reaching their capacity to warehouse risk, a factor that impacts liquidity in a highly non-linear manner.
We shift to the policy recommendations that arise in light of his research. First, Darrell notes that a campaign of large-scale asset purchases is considerably more effective in combatting a volatility episode when dealer balance sheets are stretched as they were in March of 2020 than the market turbulence of 2022, when dealers had space to absorb more risk. He also points to a greater need for centralized clearing in the Treasury market, a mechanism that would provide much needed netting of risk exposures. Lastly, Darrell shares some new research he is engaged in, specifically, exploring the 2024 Treasury program to buy-back securities.
I hope you enjoy this episode of the Alpha Exchange, my conversation with Darrell Duffie.