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How deposit insurance affects financial depth : a cross-country analysis

  • Cull, Robert

Should we expect deposit insurance to have a positive effect on development of the financial sector? All insurance pools individual risks: premiums are paid into a fund from which losses are met. In most circumstances, a residual claimant to the fund (typically a private insurance company) loses money when losses exceed premiums. Claimants that underprice risk tend to go bankrupt. With most deposit insurance, however, the residual claimant is a government agency with very different incentives. If the premiums paid by member banks cannot cover current fund expenditures, the taxpayer makes up the shortfall. Facing little threat of insolvency, there is less incentive for administrative agencies to price risk accurately. In the United States, researchers have found that the combination of increasing competition in banking services and underpriced deposit insurance led to riskier banking portfolios without commensurate increases in bank capital. Deposit insurance may facilitate risk-taking, with negative consequences for the health of the financial system. On the positive side, insurance may give depositors increased confidence in the formal financial sector -- which may decrease the likelihood of bank runs and increase financial depth. Indeed, simple bivariate correlations between explicit insurance and financial depth are positive. But when one also controls for income and inflation, that relationship disappears -- in fact, the partial correlation between changes in subsequent financial depth and the adoption of explicit insurance is negative (and quite pronounced). Counterintuitive though it may be, that stylized fact may be partially explained by the political and economic factors that motivated the decision to establish an explicit scheme. The circumstances surrounding decisions about deposit insurance are associated with different movements in subsequent financial depth. Adopting explicit deposit insurance to counteract instability in the financial sector does not appear to solve the problem. The typical reaction to that type of decision has been negative, at least with regard to financial depth in the three years after the program's inception. Adopting explicit deposit insurance when government credibility and institutional development were high appears to have had a positive effect on financial depth.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1875.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1875
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  1. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and growth : Schumpeter might be right," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1083, The World Bank.
  2. Keeley, Michael C, 1990. "Deposit Insurance, Risk, and Market Power in Banking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1183-1200, December.
  3. Mark Gertler, 1988. "Financial structure and aggregate economic activity: an overview," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 559-596.
  4. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela, 1999. "The twin crises: The causes of banking and balance of payments problems," MPRA Paper 14081, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross & DEC, 1994. "Capital fundamentalism, economic development, and economic growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1285, The World Bank.
  6. Case, A.C. & Hines, J.R.J. & Rosen, H.S., 1989. "Copycatting: Fiscal Policies Of States And Their Neighbors," Papers 37, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  7. Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Detragiache, Enrica, 1997. "The determinants of banking crises : evidence from industrial and developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1828, The World Bank.
  8. repec:fth:harver:1437 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Levine, Ross, 1996. "Financial development and economic growth : views and agenda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1678, The World Bank.
  12. Calomiris, Charles W., 1990. "Is Deposit Insurance Necessary? A Historical Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 283-295, June.
  13. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1991. "A sensitivity analysis of cross-country growth regressions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 609, The World Bank.
  14. Kane, Edward J. & Hendershott, Robert, 1996. "The federal deposit insurance fund that didn't put a bite on U.S. taxpayers," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(8), pages 1305-1327, September.
  15. repec:fth:wobaco:1083 is not listed on IDEAS
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