Observing Enforcement: Evidence from Banking
104 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2021 Last revised: 7 Sep 2021
Date Written: August, 2021
This paper finds that the disclosure of supervisory actions is associated with changes in regulators' enforcement behavior. Using a novel sample of enforcement decisions and orders (EDOs) and the setting of the 1989 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), which required the public disclosure of EDOs, we find that U.S. bank regulators issue more EDOs, intervene sooner, and rely more on publicly observable signals after the disclosure regime change. The content of EDOs also changes, with documents becoming more complex and boilerplate. Our results are stronger in counties with higher news circulation, indicating that disclosure plays an incremental role in regulators' changing behavior. We evaluate the main potentially confounding changes around FIRREA, including the S&L crisis and competition from thrifts, and find robust results. We also study changes in bank outcomes following the regime change and find that uninsured deposits decline at EDO banks, especially for banks with EDOs covered in the news. Finally, we observe that bank failure accelerates despite improvements in capital ratios and asset quality.
JEL Classification: G21, G28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation