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Stealing Deposits: Deposit Insurance, Risk-Taking and the Removal of Market Discipline in Early 20th Century Banks

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  • Charles W. Calomiris
  • Matthew S. Jaremski

Abstract

Deposit insurance reduces liquidity risk but it also can increase insolvency risk by encouraging reckless behavior. A handful of U.S. states installed deposit insurance laws before the creation of the FDIC in 1933, and those laws only applied to some depository institutions within those states. These experiments present a unique testing ground for investigating the effect of deposit insurance. We show that deposit insurance increased risk by removing market discipline that had been constraining erstwhile uninsured banks. Taking advantages of the rising world agricultural prices during World War I, insured banks increased their insolvency risk, and competed aggressively for the deposits of uninsured banks operating nearby. When prices fell after the War, the insured systems collapsed and suffered especially high losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles W. Calomiris & Matthew S. Jaremski, 2016. "Stealing Deposits: Deposit Insurance, Risk-Taking and the Removal of Market Discipline in Early 20th Century Banks," NBER Working Papers 22692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22692
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    Cited by:

    1. Carmassi, Jacopo & Dobkowitz, Sonja & Evrard, Johanne & Parisi, Laura & Silva, André & Wedow, Michael, 2018. "Completing the Banking Union with a European Deposit Insurance Scheme: who is afraid of cross-subsidisation?," Occasional Paper Series 208, European Central Bank.
    2. Ernest Dautovic, 2019. "Has Regulatory Capital Made Banks Safer? Skin in the Game vs Moral Hazard," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 19.03, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
    3. Charles W. Calomiris & Sophia Chen, 2018. "The Spread of Deposit Insurance and the Global Rise in Bank Asset Risk since the 1970s," Working Papers id:12909, eSocialSciences.
    4. Charles W. Calomiris & Matthew Jaremski, 2016. "Deposit Insurance: Theories and Facts," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 97-120, October.
    5. Calomiris, Charles W. & Flandreau, Marc & Laeven, Luc, 2016. "Political foundations of the lender of last resort: A global historical narrative," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 48-65.
    6. Kristian Blickle, 2017. "Local Banks, Credit Supply, and House Prices," Working Papers on Finance 1811, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
    7. Carletti, Elena & De Marco, Filippo & Ioannidou, Vasso & Sette, Enrico, 2019. "Banks as Patient Lenders: Evidence from a Tax Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 13722, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Anderson, Haelim & Barth, Daniel & Choi, Dong Beom, 2018. "Reducing moral hazard at the expense of market discipline: the effectiveness of double liability before and during the Great Depression," Staff Reports 869, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    9. Jaremski, Matthew & Wheelock, David C., 2017. "Banking on the Boom, Tripped by the Bust: Banks and the World War I Agricultural Price Shock," Working Papers 2017-36, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 26 Jun 2019.
    10. Damar, H. Evren & Gropp, Reint & Mordel, Adi, 2019. "Flight from safety: How a change to the deposit insurance limit affects households' portfolio allocation," IWH Discussion Papers 19/2019, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    11. Haelim Park Anderson & Gary Richardson & Brian S. Yang, 2017. "Deposit Insurance and Depositor Monitoring: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation," NBER Working Papers 23828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Linda Schilling, 2018. "Optimal Forbearance of Bank Resolution," Working Papers 2018-15, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    13. H. Evren Damar & Reint Gropp & Adi Mordel, 2019. "Flight from Safety: How a Change to the Deposit Insurance Limit Affects Households’ Portfolio Allocation," Staff Working Papers 19-29, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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