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The Failure Mechanics of Dealer Banks

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  • Darrell Duffie

Abstract

During the recent financial crisis, major dealer banks -- that is, banks that intermediate markets for securities and derivatives -- suffered from new forms of bank runs. The most vivid examples are the 2008 failures of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Dealer banks are often parts of large complex financial organizations whose failures can damage the economy significantly. As a result, they are sometimes considered "too big to fail." The mechanics by which dealer banks can fail and the policies available to treat the systemic risk of their failures differ markedly from the case of conventional commercial bank runs. These failure mechanics are the focus of this article. This is not a review of the financial crisis of 2007-2009. Systemic risk is considered only in passing. Both the financial crisis and the systemic importance of large dealer banks are nevertheless obvious and important motivations.

Suggested Citation

  • Darrell Duffie, 2010. "The Failure Mechanics of Dealer Banks," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 51-72, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:1:p:51-72
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.1.51
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Larry D. Wall & Ellis W. Tallman & Peter A. Abken, 1996. "The impact of a dealer's failure on OTC derivatives market liquidity during volatile periods," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 96-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    2. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    3. Peter Hördahl & Michael R King, 2008. "Developments in repo markets during the financial turmoil," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, December.
    4. Elisabeth Ledrut & Christian Upper, 2007. "Changing post-trading arrangements for OTC derivatives," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, December.
    5. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    6. Robert R. Bliss & Robert Steigerwald, 2006. "Derivatives clearing and settlement: a comparison of central counterparties and alternative structures," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 22-29.
    7. Ewerhart, Christian & Tapking, Jens, 2008. "Repo markets, counterparty risk and the 2007/2008 liquidity crisis," Working Paper Series 909, European Central Bank.
    8. Milbourn, Todd T. & Boot, Arnoud W. A. & Thakor, Anjan V., 1999. "Megamergers and expanded scope: Theories of bank size and activity diversity," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2-4), pages 195-214, February.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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