Tag Archives: Deposit Insurance

The Math Behind Deposit Insurance, And Why It’s The Beginning Of The End, by Tyler Durden

The math behind deposit insurance is dividing a large number (deposit liabilities) by a small number (insurance fund). From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

As Simon White writes today, “a full guarantee of all bank deposits would spell the end of moral hazard disciplining banks and mark the final chapter of the dollar’s multi-decade debasement.” And yet that’s where we are headed, even if with a few hiccups along the way, because as White also notes, with the latest banking crisis in the US, it’s the clean-up that could end up doing far more lasting damage. That’s because with the failure of SVB et al prompted the FDIC to guarantee that all depositors will be made whole, whether insured or not

And so, the precedent is being set, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen commenting on Tuesday that the US could repeat its actions if other banks became imperiled. She was referring to smaller lenders, and denied the next day that insurance would be “blanket”, but given the regulatory direction of travel over the last forty years, this will inevitability apply to any lender when push comes to shove.

Realizing it’s just a matter of time before the next systemic crisis tips the banking sector over, over the weekend, a coalition of midsize US banks asked federal regulators to extend FDIC deposit insurance for the next two years, so as to alleviate any fears which could result in a wider deposit run on regional and community banks.

But what would deposit insurance of all $18 trillion US deposits – not just the $11 or so trillion in deposits that are currently “insured” by the FDIC – look like? As BofA’s rates strategist Mark Cabana writes, deposit insurance has been a very effective solution to stabilize deposit outflows historically. Deposit insurance can be done in a variety of ways: (1) all domestic bank deposits; (2) increase coverage to a higher amount vs. the $250k currently.

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The Bank-Run Phenomenon, by Jacob G. Hornberger

A prediction: within the next three years we’ll see substantial bank runs in the U.S. and other countries. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

One of the most fascinating phenomena in financial crises is that of bank runs. That’s when panicked depositors rush to their bank to withdraw their money because they’re convinced that the bank is going broke. Everyone tries to withdraw his money before that happens. If the bank does finally go under, the people who failed to withdraw their money are left with a bank that has no money to return to them.

That’s what the FDIC is all about. It insures everyone’s deposits up to a limit of $250,000. The limit used to be $100,000 but U.S. officials, for whatever reason, wanted to make depositors feel even more secure about keeping their money in the bank.

The idea is that people don’t have to worry about losing their money if their bank goes under because the federal government will use taxpayer money to reimburse them. Thus, knowing that their money is “insured” by the government, people have less incentive to rush to the bank to withdraw their money in the event of a potential bank failure.

Of course, one problem with the FDIC insurance is that it enables weaker banks to continue operating, which could make the problem much worse in the future. Without the FDIC, weak banks would go under sooner because people, sensing a problem, would rush to withdraw their money.

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The Evolution Of The Bank Run, by Claudio Grass

Bank runs are demonstrations of crowd psychology, but they’re usually not irrational. From Claudio Grass at lewrockwell.com:

There are numerous and wide-ranging reasons why someone may choose to invest in physical precious metals. A deep understanding of monetary history provides plenty of solid arguments, and so do the mounting geopolitical risks, the spiking probability of a recession and the long-term goal of many conservative investors to safeguard their financial self-determination. For me, while all of these reasons are important, there is also another argument that I find especially powerful and extremely relevant today. The vulnerability of the current banking system itself is a risk that is often overlooked or dismissed, as most mainstream investors, having short memories and a narrow attention span, tend to believe blindly in the banking sector’s ability to protect and preserve their assets and their savings.

A clear and present danger

For most people, the very idea of a bank run is quaint and anachronistic. It conjures up black-and-white images of 1929, and it harks back to the old fears of the analog times. Today, they think, these risks are a distant memory and nothing for the modern investor, or bank customer, to seriously worry about. We have sophisticated systems in place, strict regulations in the banking sector and computers that cut out emotional impulses and smoothly control everything. Surely, banks are safer than ever. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Bank runs, far from being a thing of the past, still present a very real risk. Customer confidence can collapse as easily and as rapidly as it did a century ago. Any bank’s creditworthiness and reputation can come under fire and mass withdrawals can cripple any financial institution.

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Here’s an easy way to tell if your bank is actually safe, by Simon Black

Banks lend out most of the money deposited with them. This makes them an inherently risky proposition, and if you think government regulation and deposit insurance solve that problem, think again. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

March 15, 2013 was a pretty normal day in Cyprus. It was a Friday, and most people were looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

The next morning the entire nation woke up in horror. Their politicians had been up all night, negotiating with international lenders to provide an emergency loan to the country, and its banks.

It turned out that the banks in Cyprus were all insolvent; just like banks in the United States during the 2008 sub-prime crisis, banks in Cyprus had been making idiotic decisions with their customers’ hard-earned savings.

And by 2013, the banks’ losses were too great to ignore.

Unfortunately for depositors, the government of Cyprus was also broke, and they were unable to bail out the banks.

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