3September 8, 1929“It will be the largest bank in the world to be housed under one roof.”Second largest bank in the country to National City in New York.Culmination of a series of Chicago bank mergers spanning 71 years.
477 branches and affiliates worldwide (40% of revenue). DepressionGets $50 million from Reconstruction Finance Corporation.1960s$3 billion in deposits5,000 employees1970s77 branches and affiliates worldwide (40% of revenue).8,200 employees in Chicago
5From hierarchical structure to “matrix management” Concern that this led to bad energy loans due to a lack of supervision
6If you were going to bank with somebody, you wanted to see them as well as their balance sheet. It was a ‘relationship’ business, commercial banking. A long-term business You stuck with the company and the customers through the ups and downs of the business cycles, and they stuck with you.That was the main problem for Dave Kennedy when he decided the Continental would have to become a great international bank in order to remain a great American bank. There weren’t any international banking people.-- James P. McCollom, The Continental Affair
7“An old-fashioned bank, practicing old-fashioned prudence, would expand its lending only in step with its deposit base The modern banks that practiced managed liabilities had no such inhibitions As long as they could borrow freely, there was no internal brake on how fast they could expand.” – Greider, Secrets of the TempleBank A =1958Bank B =1968Bank C =1978
8Continental vs. PeersMuch higher reliance on “purchased funds” (> 70%)Higher yield on C&I loans (+ 1%)Higher growth of C&I loans (1.5X)Lower nonperforming loan ( %)Huge growth in energy loans (26% of C&I in 1979 vs. 47% in 1981).
10Dun’s ReviewDecember 1978One of the five best managed companies in America (joining Boeing, Schlumberger, General Electric and Caterpillar).First Boston“Superior management at the top, and its management is very deep.”Salomon Brothers“One of the finest money-center banks going.”
11May 29, 1981Chairman of Continental-Illinois Roger A. Anderson becomes highest paid banker in the United States, pulling in a whopping $710,440 ($1.6 million in 2009 dollars).President John Perkins is also on the list with just under $600,000 salary.
12Penn Square Bank Collapse Specialized in high-risk loans to the oil and gas industryAssets had grown from $62 million in 1977 to $520 million in 1982.Failed in July 1982.Only $207 million of $470 million deposits were insured.Serviced $2 billion in loans - $1 billion for Continental.
13Penn Square acted as a business scout in the ‘oil patch’ for Continental and others. When Penn Square booked loans and reached its lending capacity, it simply offered a share of the action to the larger banks, collected the equivalent of a finder’s fee, then turned around and went out to find more oil prospectors who needed money. This was very profitable for everyone, while it lasted.- William Greider, Secrets of The TempleContinental’s share went from $25 to $40 in less than two years.
14FDIC Chairman Walter Isaac’s Suggestions after Penn Square the board of directors should have fired the managementbrought in strong management from outsidetaken a huge loan write-offeliminated its dividend to stockholders.Continental’s response to this plan: “This will be the end of the bank, and you will be to blame.”
16May 8, 1984“Rumors of the impending bankruptcy of the Continental Illinois bank, the nation’s seventh largest, circulated through the international financial community today. Robert McKnew, senior vice president and treasurer of the Continental, reacted angrily to the rumors. He called them ‘totally preposterous.’”May 9, 1984Foreign depositors – mainly Japanese banks – decline to renew $1 billion in CD deposits.May 10, 1984Office of the Comptroller of Currency, breaks with policy to say that it is unaware “of any significant changes in the bank’s operations, as reflected in its published financial statements, that would serve as the basis for rumors about Continental.”May 11, 1984Continental loses $3.6 billion more in deposits, much of it from European banks.
17“Your chairman is Mr. Taylor. ” “Yes. ” “And Mr. Roger Anderson. ” “Mr “Your chairman is Mr Taylor?” “Yes.” “And Mr. Roger Anderson?” “Mr. Anderson is retired.” “Now the position of Mr. Taylor is -- ?” “He is the chairman of our bank.” “None of our managers seems to be familiar with that name.” “Mr. Taylor become chairman in February.” “And Mr. Conover?” “Mr. Conover is the comptroller of the currency.” “He is with the Federal Reserve.” “No. His office is in the Treasury Department.”
18The problems of Continental Bank essentially reflect serious weaknesses in the domestic loan portfolio of a bank that had engaged in aggressive growth and lending practices for some time, including heavy involvement and participation in energy loans of the Penn Square Bank that failed two years ago. These problems, and other credit losses, were reflected in earnings pressures and consequent loss of market confidence.- Paul Volcker, Fed Chairman, to Senate Committee (July 1984)
19Bailing Out Continental Illinois Discount WindowBank Lending GroupFederal Assistance PackageFind a PurchaserFederal Equity Stake
20Discount Window $3.6 billion – May 11, 1984 This was not enough to stop the run on Continental Illinois or make it solventTraditionally a short-term device so that banks can meet capital reserve requirements
21Bank Lending Group Weekend Following the Discount Window Loan Group of 16 Banks to Loan $4.5 billion to Continental IllinoisAgain, Insufficient to stop the runDuring this time, the bank’s domestic correspondent banks started withdrawing funds, furthering the run
22Federal Assistance Package FDIC Provided $1.5 bnFDIC also participated $500 mn to a Group of Commercial BanksCapital Infusion was in form of interest-bearing subordinated notesVariable Rate 100 basis points higher than 1-yr T-BillsFed Stated it would meet any liquidity needs of Illinois ContinentalGroup of 24 Major US Banks agreed to $5.3 in unsecured fundingFDIC promised to guarantee all creditors and depositors, even those above the $100,000 limit (TBTF)
2312 USCA 1823(c)(1)(c) Assistance to insured depository institutions (1) The Corporation is authorized, in its sole discretion and upon such terms and conditions as the Board of Directors may prescribe, to make loans to, to make deposits in, to purchase the assets or securities of, to assume the liabilities of, or to make contributions to, any insured depository institution— (A) if such action is taken to prevent the default of such insured depository institution;(B) if, with respect to an insured bank in default, such action is taken to restore such insured bank to normal operation; or(C) if, when severe financial conditions exist which threaten the stability of a significant number of insured depository institutions or of insured depository institutions possessing significant financial resources, such action is taken in order to lessen the risk to the Corporation posed by such insured depository institution under such threat of instability.
24FDIC GuaranteeThe guarantee of depositors and creditors above the $100,000 limit was controversialPeople worry about the moral hazard problemDeemed necessary because of many other financial institutions having funds invested in Continental beyond $100,000
25Finding a Merging Partner During this Federal Assistance Period, the Federal Reserve’s goal was to find someone to merge with Continental IllinoisThis is what normally happened when smaller banks became insolvent in the preceding yearsFed searched for 2 months but could not find a suitable partnerContinental Illinois was obviously much bigger than previous banks that had been merged under these circumstancesThe economy was not entirely healthy making it harder to find a merging partner
26Government OwnershipAfter the failed search for a merging partner, the government purchased $4.5 bn of bad loans from Continental IllinoisThe bank had to “charge-off” $1 bn but this was offset by a cash infusion of $1 bnThe government received non-voting preferred stock that could be converted to common stock which amounted to a 79.9% ownership stake
27Government Actions after the Takeover Old Management and Boards of Directors were forced outOne of the perceived benefits of the plan was that it made ownership and management feel the brunt of the loss. The ownership was harmed but the massive dilution of their shares and management was forced outInstalled John Swearingen as CEO of the holding company and William Ogden of CEO of the bankThese New Executives replaced the Boards of Directors, but the Government could veto membership
28Bank of America Buys Continental Illinois for $1.9 bn August 31, 1994$939 Million in Cash21.25 Million Shares of Stock$37.50/shareGovernment began selling stake in 1986, divesting one-third of sharesCompleted divestment in 1991
30Moral Hazard Why Bail out a Bank? Like many other firms, banks offer a particular bundle of services (most notably liquidity and lending services)A bank failure need not signal the failure of the larger banking system or the regulatory structureAs with any other firm, a bank failure merely demonstrates that its bundle of products is no longer demanded by the marketThe “existence of failing institutions may be a sign of health rather than a sign of malaise since it indicates either that innovation is driving obsolete firms out of the industry, or that competition is driving inefficient firms out of the market”A bank failure also helps speed along the reallocation of the bank’s assets to a more efficient set of enterprisesSee Macey & Miller, 88 Colum L Rev 1153 and Fischel et. al., 73 Va. L. Rev. 301
31Moral Hazard Are Banks “Special”? Bank Runs Regulatory Costs Contagion “Ripple Effect”“Domino Effect”Money SupplyCredit CrunchSee Macey & Miller, 88 Colum L Rev 1153 and Fischel et. al., 73 Va. L. Rev. 301
32Moral Hazard Are Banks “Special”? Bank Runs Regulatory Costs Classic example of a prisoner’s dilemmaYet how is this different than short-term creditors of any firm?Ratio of current assets to current liabilities is lower at banksYet there are many non-governmental solutions:Banks holding more liquid assets, higher premiums paid to depositors, contractual right to stop conversion of depositsRegulatory CostsCost of failure is paid for by healthy banks and taxpayersYet the regulatory structure is premised on banks being special – circularity problemsSee Macey & Miller, 88 Colum L Rev 1153 and Fischel et. al., 73 Va. L. Rev. 301
33Moral Hazard Are Banks “Special”? Contagion “Ripple Effect”Bank failure will cause public to lose confidence in the financial system, resulting in widespread bank runsYet bank failures are often firm-specific (ex. fraud) and failure of other firms also has signaling power (ex. failure of manufacturing company indicates that banks holding certain loans might fail) – banks can recycle the withdrawn funds back to the solvent banks experiencing bank runs“Domino Effect”Many banks hold deposits in the failed bankYet the failure of any firm is likely to have systemic effects on other firms (such as the firms in their supply chain)Effect of Widespread Bank FailuresMoney SupplyDecrease in money supply can impose high social costsYet the Fed Reserve mitigates this problem by serving as lender of last resortCredit CrunchBernanke paper – importance of banking human capitalYet failure of other firms also disrupts investment projects by disrupting supply chains (especially when there are few substitutes for the good or service offered)See Macey & Miller, 88 Colum L Rev 1153 and Fischel et. al., 73 Va. L. Rev. 301
34Was Continental-Illinois“Special”? Moral HazardWas Continental-Illinois“Special”?“Ripple Effect”Concern that failure of Continental-Illinois would “lead to widespread depositor runs, impairment of public confidence in the broader financial system, or serious disruptions in domestic and international payment and settlement systems.”Regulators worried about the effects on at least three other financially vulnerable banks (First Chicago, Manufacturers Hanover, and Bank of America)No clear evidence that this fear was justifiedContinental-Illinois’s failures were firm-specific – fraud and participation in highly speculative loansG. Kaufman, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago – indicating that bank runs do not take the form of currency drains out of the system, but of “redeployment of deposits to other, presumably less risky banks of similar characteristics. A run on a bank no longer translates into a run on the banking system ”“Domino Effect”Continental had an extensive network of correspondent banks, almost 2,300 of which had funds invested in Continental; more than 42 percent of those banks had invested funds in excess of $100,000, with a total investment of almost $6 billion. The FDIC determined that 66 of these banks, with total assets of almost $5 billion, had more than 100 percent of their equity capital invested in Continental and that an additional 113 banks with total assets of more than $12 billion had between 50 and 100 percent of their equity capital investedSubsequent empirical study indicated that only six banks would have collapsed as a result of Continental-Illinois’s failure
35The Inherent Tradeoff in “Too Big To Fail”: Systemic Risk vs The Inherent Tradeoff in “Too Big To Fail”: Systemic Risk vs. Moral HazardExacerbated Existing Moral HazardGovernment eliminated the incentive for depositors and general creditors to monitor banking risk and fraudFDIC insurance is absolute – thus comes with none of the traditional mechanisms employed by insurance companies to reduce moral hazard (i.e. deductibles and premiums based on underlying risk)Without depositor or general creditor monitoring, risk taking is largely dictated by interaction between preferences of management and shareholdersWhile managers are typically more like fixed claimants (due to human capital concerns), shareholders are residual claimants who will push the bank to pursue risky projectsSee Macey & Miller, 88 Colum L Rev 1153 and Fischel et. al., 73 Va. L. Rev. 301
36“Too Big to Fail” and the Incentive for Banks to Grow FDIC clearly delineated the reasons for the “Too Big to Fail” doctrineFailure of large bank leads to higher risk of “ripple effects” on smaller banksFailure of small banks more likely to be viewed by depositors as isolated, firm-specific incidentsFailure of large bank can seriously deplete the FDIC’s insurance fund and decrease public’s confidence in regulatory regimeFDIC’s employment of purchase and assumption agreements favored large and medium sized banksUnder this regulatory regime, uninsured depositors are highly likely to flock from small banks to medium and large sized banks
37Moral Hazard in Theory but in Practice? Can depositors serve as effective monitors of banks financial activity?Most depositors aren’t “true” investors – they pick bank based mostly on non-risk related factors such as convenience of location and customer serviceMost depositors don’t want to invest time and effort in researching bank’s activity – free-riding and collective-action problemDepositors could suffer from excessive optimismDepositors will often wait until insolvency is imminent and a bank run will not provide a meaningful signal to managementDepositors might react to false insolvency information or rumors and thus send inaccurate signals to managementSee Garten, 4 Yale J. on Reg. 129
38The Argument for Moral Hazard in Practice Depositors need not view risk as a primary consideration when choosing banks – moral hazard effect on the marginFree-riding/collective action monitoring problem can be resolved through ex ante premium payment to depositorsEven if depositors conduct more research before choosing bank then once their money has been deposited, banks constantly need to attract new depositors who will in turn provide needed monitoring at investment decision phaseHigher premium payments will send important signal to management/shareholders and this disciplinary mechanism can serve as a substitute to deposit withdrawalWithdrawal of funds is not costless and may cost more than investing in research to determine validity of bank rumorsSee Macey and Garrett, 5 Yale J. on Reg. 215
39Initial Congressional Reaction – Worries about TBTF Policy Volcker appeared before the Senate Banking Committee in July 1984, he faced questions about whether the Fed favored big banks like Continental over small banks, and whether the “printing” of money would have to stop.Sen Riegle: I just hope that we don’t leave the impression that the safety net is infinite in size and we can take any number of failures at once, because I don’t think you believe that and I know I don’t believe that.Volcker: To the best of my knowledge, there were characteristics of the Continental Illinois Bank that were unique.
40Congress Reacts and Narrows FDIC’s Bailout Powers Reasons for ReformPrompted by continuing dissatisfaction with the “Too Big to Fail” doctrineBailout of Bank of New England Corporation ($21 billion)Higher deposit insurance premiumsQuestionable status of Bank Insurance FundSome legislators wanted to prevent protection of uninsured depositors but most legislators and regulators favored flexibility to deal with systemic riskAlan Greenspan – insured depositors might need to be rescued “in the interests of macroeconomic stability,” but there would also be circumstances in which large banks fail with losses to uninsured depositors but without undue disruption to financial markets.”
41Congress Reacts and Narrows FDIC’s Bailout Powers Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (FDICA)FDIC resolutions were now required to proceed according to a “least-cost” test, which would mean that uninsured depositors would often have to bear losses.The FDIC was prohibited from protecting any uninsured deposits or nondeposit bank debts in cases in which such action would increase losses to the insurance fund.One important effect of the least-cost provision was that the FDIC would not be able to grant open-bank assistance unless that course would be less costly than a closed-bank resolutionException for systemic riskAt least two-thirds of both the FDIC Board of Directors and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve must recommend that an exception be made, and this recommendation must then be acted upon by the secretary of the treasury in consultation with the president.The General Accounting Office then reviews any such actions taken and reports its findings to CongressFDICIA limited the discretion the agency had exercised under the old cost test and essentiality provisions of the FDI Act.
42Congress Reacts and Narrows FDIC’s Bailout Powers Effect of FDICIAFrom 1986 through 1991, 19 percent of bank failure and assistance transactions resulted in the nonprotection of uninsured depositors. From 1992 through 1994, the figure rose to 62 percent.On the basis of total assets, the average percentage of uninsured depositors suffering a loss was 12.3 percent from 1986 through 1991, but from 1992 through 1994 it increased to 65 percent
44Terminology Conservatorship Receivership Nationalization “Conservatorship is person or entity be subject to the legal control of another person or entity, known as a conservator. When referring to government control of private corporations such as Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, conservatorship implies a looser, more temporary control than does Nationalisation.”ReceivershipWhen a company is put in receivership, it is controlled by a “receiver[,] a person ‘placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights.’”Nationalization“act of taking an industry or assets into the public ownership of a national government or state.”According to Wikipedia, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are seen as examples of conservatorship, receivership and nationalization. The terms are often interchangeable, especially in the situation of government takeover of banks.Conservatorship and receivership have a connotation of shorter periods of control.
45Push Toward Nationalization Penn Square Bank:Push Toward NationalizationPenn Square Bank failed in June 1982.Penn Square = $450m in assetsContinental Illinois = $33 bnAt the time, Penn Square was 3% of Continental Illinois’ total loans.And, 17% of total oil and gas loansThe chain reaction between Penn Square and Continental Illinois made the government wary of Continental Illinois’ collapse. Penn Square increased awareness adding to the run on Continental Illinois.
46Levels of Nationalization No NationalizationCover insured depositorsAssets are liquidated for creditorsEx. Penn SquareQuasi-NationalizationEstimate asset value and give to uninsured depositorsStockholders wiped outEx. IndyMac (general creditors received 50%)NationalizationCover both insured and uninsured depositorsStockholders are wiped out (“make whole” agreement)Ex. Continental IllinoisPurchase CompanyShareholders receive some valueCover all creditors
47ConcernsWilliam I. Isaac, head of FDIC during Continental Illinois’ Collapse, notes three concerns about using nationalization now:(1)Any nationalization of a bank will require shrinking the bank, which is difficult in tough economic times with the fear of deflation(2)Nationalization requires a reasonable exit strategyBofA and CitiBank are simply too big to sell, particularly if foreign investors are not allowed to purchase.Continental Illinois only had 2% of nation’s assets, while the top 10 banks now hold over 2/3s of nation’s assets.Also, Continental Illinois was a “plain-vanilla bank” in comparison.(3)Finding people to run these companies while nationalized will be difficult.
48Have we already nationalized? “[Nationalization] is a bit of a fuzzy line. When you have something like AIG, the insurance company, which is 80 percent owned by the taxpayers, has it been nationalized or not? And that's a little bit unclear.” --Paul Krugman
49Total Money loaned by FDIC: $4.5 bn Total Lost: $1.1 bn How much did the government lose on Continental Illinois?Total Money loaned by FDIC: $4.5 bnTotal Lost: $1.1 bnPercentage Lost: 24 percent
50Unsecured Creditors & Nationalization In a nationalization, the bondholders will take one of the largest lossesTwo problems:“Bondholders are probably the best-organized investor class that there is. You're talking about little old ladies, pension funds, and foreign governments.”R. Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics predicts: that bondholders for BofA and CitiBank will take a 70% loss if not everything.Can the government force unsecured creditors to bear the loss outside of bankruptcy?“With a deposit-taking bank: If the assets are worth less than the liabilities, the FDIC is authorized to force unsecured creditors to share the loss. “But the FDIC has no such authority over bank holding companiesFor holding companies, the unsecured creditors will bear the loss in bankruptcy, but after the Lehman Brothers, bankruptcy is usually not considered a good option.
51Banks are closed and liquidated almost without exception only when they are insolvent—when their liabilities exceed their assets and when circumstances combine with other severe problems Considered over the history of the FDIC, bank liquidations with losses to insured depositors and creditors have not been the normal procedure for dealing with problem banks. Normally, a high value is placed on maintaining banking services regardless of the size of the bank, consistent with minimizing the cost to the insurance fund. Continental, however, was not insolvent.[The Federal Reserve] was founded to serve as a lender of last resort in times of liquidity pressures of this sort, so they don’t spread through the rest of the system to innocent parties not involved in Continental Illinois at all; we were founded so that there should be that elasticity in the system. That’s what a central bank is all about, to provide liquidity in those circumstances. We are just carrying out the most classic function of a central bank.-- Volcker testimony (July 1984).