Bank Insolvencies: Cross-Country Experience

60 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: July 1996


Few areas of the world have escaped significant losses from episodes of bank insolvency. Bank insolvency is more costly in the developing world, where losses represent a greater share of income. The authors present data on bank insolvency episodes since the late 1970s. This new database can be used in conjunction with readily available data. Information and insights are presented in seven tables on: a) major bank insolvencies episodes and systemic banking crises; b) main characteristics of banking crises; c) trade terms in crisis countries; d) trade concentration prior to crises; e) restructuring characteristics; f) financial analysis of crisis countries; and g) restructuring outcome in crisis countries. In a companion paper the authors discuss possible preventatives and the tradeoff between safety and soundness versus efficiency. Meanwhile, this initial database suggests further avenues for research. There is a dearth of widely available indicators on bank performance. More attention should be focused on developing indicators that might predict bank insolvency for individual banks and systems as a whole. The authors devise criteria for assessing how governments deal with insolvency and find that countries handle it well.

Suggested Citation

Caprio, Gerard and Klingebiel, Daniela, Bank Insolvencies: Cross-Country Experience (July 1996). Available at SSRN:

Gerard Caprio (Contact Author)

Williams College ( email )

Williamstown, MA 01267
United States
413-597-2465 (Phone)
413-597-4045 (Fax)

Daniela Klingebiel

World Bank - Policy Unit ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Room MC 9-903
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-7470 (Phone)
202-522-2031 (Fax)

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