Working Paper

A proposal for efficiently resolving out-of-the-money swap positions at large insolvent banks

Abstract: Recent evidence suggests that bank regulators appear to be able to resolve insolvent large banks efficiently without either protecting uninsured deposits through invoking "too-big-to-fail" or causing serious harm to other banks or financial markets. But resolving swap positions at insolvent banks, particularly a bank's out-of-the-money positions, has received less attention. The FDIC can now either repudiate these contracts and treat the in-the-money counterparties as at-risk general creditors or transfer the contracts to a solvent bank. Both options have major drawbacks. Terminating contracts abruptly may result in large-fire sale losses and ignite defaults in other swap contracts. Transferring the contracts both is costly to the FDIC and protects the counterparties, who would otherwise be at-risk and monitor their banks. This paper proposes a third option that keeps the benefits of both options but eliminates the undesirable costs. It permits the contracts to be transferred, thus avoiding the potential for fire-sale losses and adverse spillover, but keeps the insolvent bank's in-the-money counterparties at-risk, thus maintaining discipline on banks by large and sophisticated creditors.

Keywords: Deposit insurance; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Swaps (Finance);

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    Kaufman, George G.

Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Part of Series: Working Paper Series

Publication Date: 2003

Number: WP-03-01