Modern recipes for financial crises
Remarks at the University of Iowa, December 4, 2015.
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 ...
Shadow Bank Runs
Short-term debt is commonly used to fund illiquid assets. A conventional view asserts that such arrangements are run-prone in part because redemptions must be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. This sequential service protocol, however, appears absent in the wholesale banking sector---and yet, shadow banks appear vulnerable to runs. We explain how banking arrangements that fund fixed-cost operations using short-term debt can be run-prone even in the absence of sequential service. Interventions designed to eliminate run risk may or may not improve depositor welfare. We describe how ...
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 ...
Central Bank Digital Currency: Central Banking for All?
The introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) allows the central bank to engage in large-scale intermediation by competing with private ﬁnancial interme-diaries for deposits. Yet, since a central bank is not an investment expert, it cannot invest in long-term projects itself, but relies on investment banks to do so. We derive an equivalence result that shows that absent a banking panic, the set of allocations achieved with private ﬁnancial intermediation will also be achieved with a CBDC. Dur-ing a panic, however, we show that the rigidity of the central bank’s contract ...
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.
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 ...
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 ...
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: ?Low asset returns: Fundamental insolvency due to erosion of equity by low asset returns that don?t cover a bank?s debt burden.?Loss of funding: Costly liquidation of assets that erode equity.
Why Large Bank Failures Are So Messy and What to Do about It?
If the Lehman Brothers failure proved anything, it was that large, complex bank failures are messy; they destroy value and can destabilize financial markets. We certainly don?t mean to trivialize matters by calling large bank failures ?messy,? as it their messiness, particularly the destabilizing aspect, that creates the ?too-big-to-fail? problem. In our contribution to the Economic Policy Review volume, we venture an explanation about why large bank failures are so messy and discuss a policy that can make them less so.