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Too many to fail - an analysis of time-inconsistency in bank closure policies

  • Viral Acharya
  • Tanju Yorulmazer

While the ‘too-big-to-fail’ guarantee is explicitly a part of bank regulation in many countries, this paper shows that bank closure policies also suffer from an implicit ‘too-many-to-fail’ problem: when the number of bank failures is large, the regulator finds it ex-post optimal to bail out some or all failed banks, whereas when the number of bank failures is small, failed banks can be acquired by the surviving banks. This gives banks incentives to herd and increases the risk that many banks may fail together. The ex-post optimal regulation may thus be time-inconsistent or suboptimal from an ex-ante standpoint. In contrast to the too-big-to-fail problem which mainly affects large banks, we show that the too-many-to-fail problem affects small banks more by giving them stronger incentives to herd.

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Paper provided by Bank of England in its series Bank of England working papers with number 319.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:319
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  1. Craig O. Brown & I. Serdar Dinç, 2005. "The Politics of Bank Failures: Evidence from Emerging Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1413-1444, November.
  2. Rajan, Raghuram G, 1994. "Why Bank Credit Policies Fluctuate: A Theory and Some Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 399-441, May.
  3. Valev, N, 1996. "International Lending by US Banks," Papers 96-010, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management - Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
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  5. Glenn Hoggarth & Jack Reidhill & Peter Sinclair, 2004. "On the resolution of banking crises: theory and evidence," Bank of England working papers 229, Bank of England.
  6. Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Enrica Detragiache, 2000. "Does Deposit Insurance Increase Banking System Stability?," IMF Working Papers 00/3, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan V, 1993. "Self-Interested Bank Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 206-12, May.
  8. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1999. "Liquidity Risk, Liquidity Creation and Financial Fragility: A Theory of Banking," NBER Working Papers 7430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hoggarth, Glenn & Jackson, Patricia & Nier, Erlend, 2005. "Banking crises and the design of safety nets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 143-159, January.
  10. Acharya, Viral V & Bharath, Sreedhar T & Srinivasan, Anand, 2003. "Understanding the Recovery Rates on Defaulted Securities," CEPR Discussion Papers 4098, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Viral V. Acharya & Tanju Yorulmazer, 2008. "Cash-in-the-Market Pricing and Optimal Resolution of Bank Failures," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(6), pages 2705-2742, November.
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