First, we need to simplify our rules while strengthening them. Too many areas of regulation across our economy have become so complicated with weird formulas, dizzying methodologies, and endless loopholes and carveouts. We need simpler rules to prevent future disasters. A better alternative is to create bright line limits, with clear sanctions, including size caps and growth restrictions. Clearly observable metrics make it easier to monitor and increase consistency.
Second, we need to stop subsidizing the largest and riskiest banks by giving out free deposit insurance. When small banks fail, they rarely lead to much cost to the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund, since they can be fairly easily wound down or sold. But when large banks fail, the costs to the Deposit Insurance Fund and broader economy can be steep. To make matters worse, those institutional clients with the biggest deposits feel they can get around insurance limits by going to the biggest banks. In other words, people perceive that the biggest banks get free deposit insurance over the legal limits by way of their too-big-to-fail status.
Fixing our deposit insurance pricing structure is just one small step that could help address this problem. Large, riskier banks should pay more and small, simpler banks should pay less. We should also make the framework countercyclical, so that we aren’t in the position of raising rates when banking conditions are weak.
While today’s proposed special assessment will not fall on small, local banks, the failure of First Republic Bank will be a direct hit to the Deposit Insurance Fund that is not being recouped through this special assessment. It’s a reminder that we need to fix the fund’s pricing over the long term.
Finally, as Swiss policymakers made clear regarding the recent turmoil involving Credit Suisse, more people are saying the quiet part out loud: the current resolution plans filed by the largest financial institutions in the world, which purport to show how the firms could fail without a government bailout or economic chaos, are essentially a fairy tale.5
The latest failures are another reminder that we must work to eliminate the unfair advantages bestowed upon too-big-to-fail banks. New laws and old laws alike provide a roadmap to end too-big-to-fail and the resulting risks to financial stability, fair competition, and the rule of law.6
Author(s): Rohit Chopra
Publication Date: 11 May 2023
Publication Site: Consumer Finance Protection Bureau