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The Center “Financial Intermediaries and the Real Economy” (short “FIRE” or the “Center”) conducts and disseminates new research across a wide array of financial topics and organizes conferences that bring together academics, practitioners and regulators. The Center specializes in the study of financial institutions and markets, including banks, exchanges, managed funds and insurance companies.

The primary objectives of the Center are to bring Frankfurt School’s research on financial institutions and markets to the attention of policymakers, regulators, practitioners, fellow academics, the media, and the general public; to facilitate the flow of ideas among these constituents; and to support the creation of cutting-edge research at Frankfurt School. The Center interfaces with its external constituents in a variety of ways, including regular conferences, workshops, and public lectures, often in collaboration with external sponsors and collaborators.

The history of the Center goes back to 2015, when the School received a generous founding grant from the Commerzbank Foundation (“Commerzbank Stiftung”). The Center’s first Director was Professor Michael Koetter, who joined IWH Halle in September 2016. Since its inception, the Center, its team and academic network have successfully contributed to academic research in projects, organized or contributed to academic conferences and enriched the policy debate.

It is currently co-headed by Professor Sascha Steffen, who joined Frankfurt School as a Professor of Finance in August 2017, and Prof. Koetter with the goal to broaden the Center’s scope and deepen its activities. The Center will fund its activities mainly through contributions from a diversified group of sponsors.

Due to its focus and organizational structure, the Center will be at the forefront of business and regulatory developments affecting the financial services industry over the years to come. Frankfurt School is uniquely suited to host this Center due to its extensive cooperation with non-university partners in Frankfurt, such as the Deutsche Bundesbank, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bundesanstalt für Finanzaufsicht (BaFin) and the Frankfurt Institute for Risk Management (FIRM) as well as the presence of various financial intermediaries (banks, hedge funds, Fin Techs or stock exchange) and regulators in Frankfurt.

Importantly, the center combines and benefits from a broad range of leading research from different disciplines such as Accounting, Economics and Finance at Frankfurt School. It thus will provide substantive and independent expertise and insights on financial institutions and markets supported by academic evidence. The vision is to be a premier research center that promotes and supports the most innovative finance research in order to transform business practice, education and to provide thought leadership that forms a voice to be heard.

Current Research Projects (selected)

  • Assessing monetary policy interventions
  • Fire sale risks in the European financial system
  • “Similar investors” as main driver of banking sector liquidity risk
  • How does the Brexit vote affect corporate lending?
  • FinTech - Functioning of a deposit auction platform
  • Sovereign & Financial Sector Credit Risk

Conferences (selected since 2017)

Conferences in 2019
  • 5th IWH-FIRE workshop "Challenges to Financial Stability"
  • Regulating Financial Markets (Show program from 2017)
  • German Economist Abroad Conference

Past Conferences from 2017

  • 3rd IWH-FIRE workshop “Challenges to Financial Stability”
  • Bundesbank Herbstkonferenz “The Future of Banking”

Past Conferences from 2018

  • 4th IWH-FIRE workshop “Challenges to Financial Stability”
  • IBEFA Summer meetings Vancouver

Presentations (selected since 2017)

2019 (forthcoming)

American Finance Association


American Finance Association,
American Economic Association,
SFS Cavalcade,

NBER Corporate Finance Summer Institute,
European Finance Association,
German Finance Association


American Finance Association,
European Finance Association


Academic (selected, since 2015)
  • Foreigners vs. Natives: Bank Lending Technology and Loan Pricing, forthcoming, Management Science
  • Syndication, Interconnectedness and Systemic Risk, 2018, Journal of Financial Stability
  • What do a million observations have to say about loan defaults? Opening the black of box of relationships, 2017, Journal of Financial Intermediation
  • Mind the gap: The Difference between US and European Loan Rates, Review of Financial Studies
  • The Total Costs of Corporate Borrowing in the Loan Market: Don’t Ignore the Fees, 2016,  Journal of Finance
  • Lend Global, Fund Local? Price and Funding Cost Margins in Multinational Lending, 2016, Review of Finance
  • The “Greatest” Carry Trade Ever? Understanding Eurozone Bank Risks, 2015, Journal of Financial Economics
Policy contributions
  • Consultation BCBS discussion paper on the regulatory treatment of sovereign exposures (BIS), 2018
  • “Feasibility Check: Transition to a New Regime for Bank Sovereign Exposure?” In-Depth Analysis, provided at the request of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, European Parliament, 2017
  • “The Importance of a Banking Union and Fiscal Union for a Capital Markets Union.” Prepared for European Commission, Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, 2017
  • Comment on “Framework for Post-Implementation Evaluation of the Effects of the G20 Financial Regulatory Reforms” of the Financial Stability Board, 2017
  • Capital Shortfalls in SSM Banks: How much progress has been made? In-Depth Analysis, provided at the request of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, European Parliament, 2015