Bank Panics and the Endogeneity of Central Banking
50 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2002 Last revised: 30 Aug 2002
Date Written: August 2002
Central banking is intimately related to liquidity provision to banks during times of crisis, the lender-of-last-resort function. This activity arose endogenously in certain banking systems. Depositors lack full information about the value of bank assets so that during macroeconomic downturns they monitor their banks by withdrawing in a banking panic. The likelihood of panics depends on the industrial organization of the banking system. Banking systems with many small, undiversified banks, are prone to panics and failures, unlike systems with a few big banks that are heavily branched and well diversified. Systems of many small banks are more efficient if the banks form coalitions during times of crisis. We provide conditions under which the industrial organization of banking leads to incentive compatible state contingent bank coalition formation. Such coalitions issue money that is a kind of deposit insurance and examine and supervise banks. Bank coalitions of small banks, however, cannot replicate the efficiency of a system of big banks.
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