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Can a Bank Run Be Stopped? Government Guarantees and the Run on Continental Illinois

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the run on Continental Illinois in 1984. We find that the run slowed but did not stop following an extraordinary government intervention, which included the guarantee of all liabilities of the bank and a commitment to provide ongoing liquidity support. Continental's outflows were driven by a broad set of US and foreign financial institutions. These were large, sophisticated creditors with holdings far in excess of the insurance limit. During the initial run, creditors with relatively liquid balance sheets nevertheless withdrew more than other creditors, likely reflecting low tolerance to hold illiquid assets. In addition, smaller and more-distant creditors were more likely to withdraw. In the second and more drawn out phase of the run, institutions with relative large exposures to Continental were more likely to withdraw, reflecting a general unwillingness to have an outsized exposure to a troubled institution even in the absence of credit risk. Finally, we show that the concentration of holdings of Continental's liabilities was a key dynamic in the run and was importantly linked to Continental's systemic importance.

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  • Carlson, Mark A. & Rose, Jonathan D., 2016. "Can a Bank Run Be Stopped? Government Guarantees and the Run on Continental Illinois," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-3, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2016-03
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2016.003
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    1. Wall, Larry D. & Peterson, David R., 1990. "The effect of Continental Illinois' failure on the financial performance of other banks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 77-99, August.
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    Keywords

    Bank runs; deposit guarantee; deposit insurance; financial crisis;

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management

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