Tuesday, March 10, 2009

THE FED: Big Banks Will Not Be Allowed To Fail, Bernanke Says

From CNN/Money: THE FED: Big Banks Will Not Be Allowed To Fail, Bernanke Says:
"Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke stressed Tuesday that major financial institutions would not be allowed to fail given the fragile state of financial markets and the global economy.

In a speech in Washington, Bernanke repeated that a sustainable economic recovery will 'remain out of reach' until the banking sector is stabilized....Bernanke said he hopes the view that the market can handle the failure of a systemically important firm is "no longer seriously maintained" given the power of the financial crisis in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last September. "It was the...collapse of banks and other institutions in late 1930 and early 1931 that made the Great Depression great...."
From the actual speech: FRB: Speech--Bernanke, Financial Reform to Address Systemic Risk--March 10, 2009:
"In a crisis, the authorities have strong incentives to prevent the failure of a large, highly interconnected financial firm, because of the risks such a failure would pose to the financial system and the broader economy. However, the belief of market participants that a particular firm is considered too big to fail has many undesirable effects. For instance, it reduces market discipline and encourages excessive risk-taking by the firm. It also provides an artificial incentive for firms to grow, in order to be perceived as too big to fail. And it creates an unlevel playing field with smaller firms, which may not be regarded as having implicit government support. Moreover, government rescues of too-big-to-fail firms can be costly to taxpayers, as we have seen recently. Indeed, in the present crisis, the too-big-to-fail issue has emerged as an enormous problem....
And later:
"In light of the importance of money market mutual funds--and, in particular, the crucial role they play in the commercial paper market, a key source of funding for many businesses--policymakers should consider how to increase the resiliency of those funds that are susceptible to runs. One approach would be to impose tighter restrictions on the instruments in which money market mutual funds can invest, potentially requiring shorter maturities and increased liquidity. A second approach would be to develop a limited system of insurance for money market mutual funds that seek to maintain a stable net asset value. For either of these approaches or others, it would be important to consider the implications not only for the money market mutual fund industry itself, but also for the distribution of liquidity and risk in the financial system as a whole.""

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