IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Moral hazard under commercial and universal banking


  • John H. Boyd
  • Chun Chang
  • Bruce D. Smith


Many claims have been made about the potential benefits, and the potential costs, of adopting a system of universal banking in the United States. We evaluate these claims using a model where there is a moral hazard problem between banks and “borrowers,” a moral hazard problem between banks and a deposit insurer, and a costly state verification problem. Under conditions we describe, allowing banks to take equity positions in firms strengthens their ability to extract surplus, and exacerbates problems of moral hazard. The incentives of universal banks to take equity positions will often be strongest when these problems are most severe.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Boyd & Chun Chang & Bruce D. Smith, 1998. "Moral hazard under commercial and universal banking," Working Papers 585, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:585

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Saunders, Anthony, 1994. "Banking and commerce: An overview of the public policy issues," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 231-254, January.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Paul M. Romer, 1993. "Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(2), pages 1-74.
    3. Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan V, 1997. "Financial System Architecture," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(3), pages 693-733.
    4. Mark Gertler & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1988. "Financial factors in business fluctuations," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 33-78.
    5. Saunders, Anthony & Walter, Ingo, 1994. "Universal Banking in the United States: What Could We Gain? What Could We Lose?," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195080698.
    6. Gorton, Gary & Schmid, Frank A., 2000. "Universal banking and the performance of German firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 29-80.
    7. Berlin, Mitchell & John, Kose & Saunders, Anthony, 1996. "Bank Equity Stakes in Borrowing Firms and Financial Distress," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 9(3), pages 889-919.
    8. Williamson, Stephen D., 1986. "Costly monitoring, financial intermediation, and equilibrium credit rationing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 159-179, September.
    9. Santos, Joao A. C., 1999. "Bank capital and equity investment regulations," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(7), pages 1095-1120, July.
    10. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1995. "A welfare comparison of intermediaries and financial markets in Germany and the US," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-209, February.
    11. Merton, Robert C., 1977. "An analytic derivation of the cost of deposit insurance and loan guarantees An application of modern option pricing theory," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 3-11, June.
    12. Mathias Dewatripont & Jean Tirole, 1994. "The prudential regulation of banks," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9539, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    13. Kareken, John H & Wallace, Neil, 1978. "Deposit Insurance and Bank Regulation: A Partial-Equilibrium Exposition," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 413-438, July.
    14. Randall J. Pozdena, 1991. "Why banks need commerce powers," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Sum, pages 18-31.
    15. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
    16. John, Kose & John, Teresa A. & Saunders, Anthony, 1994. "Universal banking and firm risk-taking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 307-323, January.
    17. Douglas Gale & Martin Hellwig, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 647-663.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Universal banks;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:585. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jannelle Ruswick). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.