A bank failure occurs when a bank is unable to meet its obligations to its depositors or other creditors because it has become insolvent or too illiquid to meet its liabilities. A bank usually fails economically when the market value of its assets declines to a value that is less than the market value of its liabilities. The insolvent bank either borrows from other solvent banks or sells its assets at a lower price than its market value to generate liquid money to pay its depositors on demand. The inability of the solvent banks to lend liquid money to the insolvent bank creates a bank panic among the depositors as more depositors try to take out cash deposits from the bank. As such, the bank is unable to fulfill the demands of all of its depositors on time. A bank may be taken over by the regulating government agency if its shareholders' equity are below the regulatory minimum.
The failure of a bank is generally considered to be of more importance than the failure of other types of business firms because of the interconnectedness and fragility of banking institutions. Research has shown that the market value of customers of the failed banks is adversely affected at the date of the failure announcements. It is often feared that the spill over effects of a failure of one bank can quickly spread throughout the economy and possibly result in the failure of other banks, whether or not those banks were solvent at the time as the marginal depositors try to take out cash deposits from these banks to avoid from suffering losses. Thereby, the spill over effect of bank panic or systemic risk has a multiplier effect on all banks and financial institutions leading to a greater effect of bank failure in the economy. As a result, banking institutions are typically subjected to rigorous regulation, and bank failures are of major public policy concern in countries across the world.
List of notable bank acquisitions
|Announcement date||Target||Acquirer||Transaction value |
|1999-11-29||National Westminster Bank Plc||Royal Bank of Scotland||42.5|
|2003-10-27||FleetBoston Financial||Bank of America||47|
|2004-01-15||Bank One Corporation||JPMorgan Chase||58|
|2006-01-01||MBNA||Bank of America||34.2|
|2007-10-09||ABN AMRO||Royal Bank of Scotland Fortis Santander||77,230|
|2008-02-22||Northern Rock||Government of the United Kingdom||41.213|
|2008-07-01||Countrywide Financial||Bank of America||4|
|2008-07-14||Alliance & Leicester||Santander||1.93|
|2008-09-07||Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac||Federal Housing Finance Agency||5,000|
|2008-09-14||Merrill Lynch||Bank of America||44|
|2008-09-16||American International Group||United States Treasury||182|
|2008-09-26||Lehman Brothers||Nomura Holdings||1.3|
|2008-09-28||Bradford & Bingley||Government of the United Kingdom Santander||1.838|
|2008-09-29||Abbey National||Government of the United Kingdom Santander||2.298|
|2008-09-30||Dexia||The Governments of Belgium, France and Luxembourg||7.06|
|2008-10-07||Landsbanki||Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority||4.192|
|2008-10-08||Glitnir||Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority||3.254|
|2008-10-09||Kaupthing Bank||Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority||1.257|
|2008-10-13||Lloyds Banking Group||Government of the United Kingdom||26.045|
|2008-10-13||Royal Bank of Scotland Group||Government of the United Kingdom||30.641|
|2008-10-14||Bank of America||United States Federal Government||45|
|2008-10-14||Bank of New York Mellon||United States Federal Government||3|
|2008-10-14||Goldman Sachs||United States Federal Government||10|
|2008-10-14||JP Morgan||United States Federal Government||25|
|2008-10-14||Morgan Stanley||United States Federal Government||10|
|2008-10-14||State Street||United States Federal Government||2|
|2008-10-14||Wells Fargo||United States Federal Government||25|
|2008-10-17||UBS||Swiss National Bank||65.314|
|2008-10-22||ING Group||Government of the Netherlands||11.032|
|2008-11-23||Citigroup||United States Federal Government||300|
|2009-02-11||Allied Irish Bank||Government of the Republic of Ireland||3.861|
|2009-02-11||Anglo Irish Bank||Government of the Republic of Ireland||13.57|
|2009-02-11||Bank of Ireland||Government of the Republic of Ireland||3.861|
|2012-03-13||Alpha Bank||Government of Greece||2.096|
|2012-03-13||Eurobank||Government of Greece||4.633|
|2012-03-13||National Bank of Greece||Government of Greece||7.612|
|2012-03-13||Piraeus Bank||Government of Greece||5.516|
|2012-03-25||Laiki Bank||Bank of Cyprus||10.812|
|2012-05-25||Bankia||Government of Spain||20.962|
|2012-06-07||Caixa Geral de Depositos||Government of Portugal||1.78|
|2012-06-07||Millennium BCP||Government of Portugal||3.3|
Bank failures in the U.S.
In the U.S., deposits in savings and checking accounts are backed by the FDIC. Currently, each account owner is insured up to $250,000 in the event of a bank failure. When a bank fails, in addition to insuring the deposits, the FDIC acts as the receiver of the failed bank, taking control of the bank's assets and deciding how to settle its debts. The number of bank failures has been tracked and published by the FDIC since 1934, and has decreased after a peak in 2010 due to the financial crisis of 2007–2008.
No advance notice is given to the public when a bank fails. Under ideal circumstances, a bank failure can occur without customers losing access to their funds at any point. For example, in the 2008 failure of Washington Mutual the FDIC was able to broker a deal in which JP Morgan Chase bought the assets of Washington Mutual for $1.9 billion. Existing customers were immediately turned into JP Morgan Chase customers, without disruption in their ability to use their ATM cards or do banking at branches. Such policies are designed to discourage bank runs that might cause economic damage on a wider scale.
The failure of a bank is relevant not only to the country in which it is headquartered, but for all other nations with which it conducts business. This dynamic was highlighted during the financial crisis of 2007–2008, when the failures of major bulge bracket investment banks affected local economies globally. This interconnectedness was manifested not on a high level, with respect to deals negotiated between major companies from different parts of the world, but also to the global nature of any one company's makeup. Outsourcing is a key example of this makeup; as major banks such as Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns failed, the employees from countries other than the United States suffered in turn. A 2015 analysis by the Bank of England found greater interconnectedness between banks has led to a greater transmission of stresses during a time of recession.
- Bank run
- Causes of the Great Depression
- List of banks acquired or bankrupted in the United States during the financial crisis of 2007–2008
- List of bank failures in the United States (2008–present)
- List of largest U.S. bank failures
- Too Big to Fail
- Volcker Rule
- Zombie bank
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