Many of the key issues about what modern macroeconomics has to say on global financial crises and deposit insurance are discussed in a 2010 interview with Thomas Sargent
Sargent said that two polar models of bank crises and what government lender-of-last-resort and deposit insurance do to arrest or promote them were used to understand the GFC. They are polar models because:
- in the Diamond-Dybvig and Bryant model of banking runs, deposit insurance and other bailouts are purely a good thing stopping panic-induced bank runs from ever starting; and
- in the Kareken and Wallace model, deposit insurance by governments and the lender-of-last-resort function of a central bank are purely a bad thing because moral hazard encourages risk taking unless there is regulation or there is proper surveillance and accurate risk-based pricing of the deposit insurance.
In the Diamond-Dybvig and Bryant model, if there is government-supplied deposit insurance, people do not initiate bank runs because they trust their deposits to be safe. There is no cost to the government for offering the deposit insurance because there are no bank runs! A major free lunch.
Tom Sargent considers that the Bryant-Diamond-Dybvig model has been very influential, in general, and among policy makers in 2008, in particular.
Governments saw Bryant-Diamond-Dybvig bank runs everywhere. The logic of this model persuaded many governments that if they could arrest the actual or potential runs by convincing creditors that their loans were insured, that could be done at little or no eventual cost to taxpayers.
In 2008, the Australian and New Zealand governments announced emergency bank deposit insurance guarantees. In Bryant-Diamond-Dybvig style bank panics, these guarantees ward off the bank run and thus should cost nothing fiscally because the deposit insurance is not called upon. These guarantees and lender of last resort function were seen as key stabilising measures. These guarantees were called upon in NZ to the tune of $2 billion.
- 1. The Diamond-Dybvig and Bryant model makes you sensitive to runs and optimistic about the ability of deposit insurance to cure them.
- The Kareken and Wallace model’s prediction is that if a government sets up deposit insurance and doesn’t regulate bank portfolios to prevent them from taking too much risk, the government is setting the stage for a financial crisis.
- The Kareken-Wallace model makes you very cautious about lender-of-last-resort facilities and very sensitive to the risk-taking activities of banks.
Kareken and Wallace called for much higher capital reserves for banks and more regulation to avoid future crises. This is not a new idea.
Sam Peltzman in the mid-1960s found that U.S. banks in the 1930s halved their capital ratios after the introduction of federal deposit insurance. FDR was initially opposed to deposit insurance because it would encourage greater risk taking by banks.
Late on Friday afternoon, Stuff posted an op-ed piece calling for the introduction of a (funded) deposit insurance scheme in New Zealand. It was written by Geof Mortlock, a former colleague of mine at the Reserve Bank, who has spent most of his career on banking risk issues, including having been heavily involved in the handling of the failure, and resulting statutory management, of DFC.
As the IMF recently reported, all European countries (advanced or emerging) and all advanced economies have deposit insurance, with the exception of San Marino, Israel and New Zealand. An increasing number of people have been calling for our politicians to rethink New Zealand’s stance in opposition to deposit insurance. I wrote about the issue myself just a couple of months ago, in response to some new material from the Reserve Bank which continues to oppose deposit insurance.
Different people emphasise different arguments in making the case for New Zealand to…
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If we could take time out from the breathless journalism about the Chinese stock market, which some people may have heard of before this week, it’s crash should be seen through the lens that Anna Schwartz developed in 1987 of a pseudo financial crisis and a financial crisis.
Her paper is written at the same time as the 1987 stock market crash. On financial crises, Anna Schwartz said:
As for those pseudo financial crises, she said:
Schwartz’s principal concern with regard to pseudo financial crisis was:
proposals to deal with pseudo-financial crises is the perpetuation of policies that promote inflation and waste of economic resources
As we are talking about the Chinese stock market, Anna Schwartz also wrote about the concepts of real systemic international risk and and pseudo international systemic risk.
Once again, and as with pseudo financial crises and real financial crises, what distinguishes real systemic international risk and pseudo international systemic risk is a threat to the payment system. The threat of bank runs, which can easily be eliminated through lender of last resort facilities:
As always it is about the security of the payments system – of avoiding bank runs, not private losses:
The lesson for the day is that when people start panicking about the economy or the stock market or international markets, don’t go to a macroeconomist for advice, go to a monetary historian. They have seen it all before.
Greece is a tiny part of the European economies so it doesn’t matter that much to the rest of the European Union what happens to Greece. The only people will notice the sovereign default of Greece once the breathless journalism has died down are Greeks themselves as they rebuild their banking and monetary system against a background of a government run by coffee shop Marxists.