Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FDIC to Tighten Interest Rate Restrictions on some Institutions

by Calculated Risk on 1/27/2009 11:14:00 AM

From the FDIC: FDIC to Tighten and Clarify Interest Rate Restrictions on Institutions That are Less Than Well-Capitalized

The Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation today proposed for comment a regulatory change in the way the FDIC administers its statutory restrictions on the deposit interest rates paid by banks that are less than Well Capitalized.

Prompt Corrective Action requires the FDIC to prevent banks that are less than Well Capitalized from soliciting deposits at interest rates that significantly exceed prevailing rates.
This is an attempt to address the moral hazard issue related to deposit insurance. The FDIC is well aware of this problem:
Concerns about Moral Hazard. In the insurance context, the term "moral hazard" refers to the tendency of insured parties to take on more risk than they would if they had not been indemnified against losses. The argument is that deposit insurance reassures depositors that their money is safe and removes the incentive for depositors to critically evaluate the condition of their bank. With deposit insurance, unsound banks typically have little difficulty obtaining funds, and riskier banks can obtain funds at costs that are not commensurate with their levels of risk. Unless deposit insurance is properly priced to reflect risk, banks gain if they take on more risk because they need not pay creditors a fair risk–adjusted return. A truly risk–based assessment discourages such risky behavior. The moral hazard problem is particularly acute for insured depository institutions that are at or near insolvency but are allowed to operate freely because any losses are passed on to the insurer, whereas profits accrue to the owners. Thus problem institutions have an incentive to take excessive risks with insured deposits in the hope of returning to profitability.
emphasis added
There are now 154 banks on the "less than Well Capitalized" list:
The proposed rule applies only to the small minority of banks that are less than well capitalized. As of third quarter 2008, there were 154 banks that reported being less than Well Capitalized, out of more than 8,300 banks nationwide.
Bank Failure Fridays will be busy this year.