Chapter

New York's Safety Fund System

Howard Bodenhorn

in State Banking in Early America

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195147766
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199832910 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195147766.003.0007
New York's Safety Fund System

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Economists and regulatory agencies justify deposit insurance because they consider banks unique among capitalist firms. Because banks hold highly idiosyncratic portfolios that are hard for outside monitors to value correctly, macroeconomic shocks that threaten the viability of individual banks can threaten the entire system. Although deposit insurance diminishes the threat of bank runs and, thereby, creates a social benefit, deposit insurance also generates potentially large costs, which provides a justification for regulatory oversight and regulation. Like most bank insurance schemes, the Safety Fund was prone to moral hazard, or excessive risk taking by member banks and adverse selection, wherein better banks left the system, leaving only high‐risk banks as members. The system collapsed after only a small number of failures because of poor oversight, moral hazard, adverse selection, regulatory forbearance, and an under‐funded insurance.

Keywords: adverse selection; bank runs; deposit insurance; forbearance; macroeconomic shocks; moral hazard; regulation; regulatory oversight; risk‐taking; Safety Fund

Chapter.  12629 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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