What makes large bank failures so messy and what should be done about it?
This study argues that the defining feature of large and complex banks that makes their failures messy is their reliance on runnable financial liabilities. These liabilities confer liquidity or money-like services that may be impaired or destroyed in bankruptcy. To make large bank failures more orderly, the authors recommend that systemically important bank holding companies be required to issue ?bail-in-able? long-term debt that converts to equity in resolution. This reassures holders of uninsured liabilities that their claims will be honored in resolution, making them less likely to run. In ...
Bank Runs without Sequential Service
Banking models in the tradition of Diamond and Dybvig (1983) rely on sequential service to explain belief-driven runs. But the run-like phenomena witnessed during the financial crisis of 2007?08 occurred in the wholesale shadow banking sector where sequential service is largely absent, suggesting that something other than sequential service is needed to help explain runs. We show that in the absence of sequential service runs can easily occur whenever bank-funded investments are subject to increasing returns to scale consistent with available evidence. Our framework is used to understand and ...
How Has COVID-19 Affected Banking System Vulnerability?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in banks’ balance sheets. To understand how these changes have affected the stability of the U.S. banking system, we provide an update of four analytical models that aim to capture different aspects of banking system vulnerability.
Modern recipes for financial crises
Remarks at the University of Iowa, December 4, 2015.
Preventing bank runs
Diamond and Dybvig (1983) is commonly understood as providing a formal rationale for the existence of bank-run equilibria. It has never been clear, however, whether bank-run equilibria in this framework are a natural byproduct of the economic environment or an artifact of suboptimal contractual arrangements. In the class of direct mechanisms, Peck and Shell (2003) demonstrate that bank-run equilibria can exist under an optimal contractual arrangement. The difficulty of preventing runs within this class of mechanism is that banks cannot identify whether withdrawals are being driven by ...
The Effect of Safe Assets on Financial Fragility in a Bank-Run Model
Risk-averse investors induce competitive intermediaries to hold safe assets, thereby lowering the probability of a run and reducing financial fragility. We revisit Goldstein and Pauzner (2005), who obtain a unique equilibrium in the banking model of Diamond and Dybvig (1983) by introducing risky investment and noisy private signals. We show that, in the optimal demand-deposit contract subject to sequential service, banks hold safe assets to insure investors against investment risk. Consequently, fewer investors withdraw prematurely, which reduces the probability of a bank run. Safe asset ...
Reducing moral hazard at the expense of market discipline: the effectiveness of double liability before and during the Great Depression
Prior to the Great Depression, regulators imposed double liability on bank shareholders to ensure financial stability and protect depositors. Under double liability, shareholders of failing banks lost their initial investment and had to pay up to the par value of the stock in order to compensate depositors. We examine whether double liability was effective at mitigating bank risks and providing a safety net for depositors before and during the Great Depression. We first develop a model that demonstrates two competing effects of double liability: a direct effect that constrains bank risk ...
Factors that Affect Bank Stability
In a previous Liberty Street Economics post, we introduced a framework for thinking about the risks banks face. In particular, we distinguished between asset return risk and funding risk that can interact and cause a bank to fail. In our framework, a bank can fail for two reasons: 1-Low asset returns: Fundamental insolvency due to erosion of equity by low asset returns that don’t cover a bank’s debt burden. 2-Loss of funding: Costly liquidation of assets that erode equity.
Preventing Bank Runs
Banking can be defined as the business of maturity transformation, or "borrowing short to lend long." Economists and policymakers have long viewed banking as inherently unstable, that is, prone to runs. This Economic Brief reviews the intuition and theory behind bank runs and the most popular proposed solutions. It also explores new research suggesting that runs might be prevented by creating a new, low-cost type of deposit contract that eliminates the incentive to run.
Too-Big-to-Fail before the Fed
?Too-big-to-fail? is consistent with policies followed by private bank clearing houses during financial crises in the U.S. National Banking Era prior to the existence of the Federal Reserve System. Private bank clearing houses provided emergency lending to member banks during financial crises. This behavior strongly suggests that ?too-big-to-fail? is not the problem causing modern crises. Rather, it is a reasonable response to the threat posed to large banks by the vulnerability of short-term debt to runs.