JPMorgan Chase’s purchase of First Republic Bank appears to be a standard purchase and assumption resolution of a failing bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has organized hundreds of such bank resolutions there by painlessly purging bad banks for the banking system. The only mistake in my view was selling it to the country’s largest bank.
Purchase and assumption resolutions involve the simultaneous purchase of a failing bank’s good assets and the assumption of its deposit liabilities by a good bank and putting what’s left into bankruptcy (wiping out its shareholders and some or all of its corporate debt). Its the risk of loss to shareholders that provides the market scrutiny of bank risk taking. “Institutional and Legal Impediments to Efficient Insolvent Bank Resolution And Ways to Overcome Them”
Money (currency and demand deposits) should not be at risk of a bank failure. Depositors should not need to evaluate the safety and soundness of the bank they chose to hold their money in. So the FDIC insures deposits up to $250,000. But all deposits in the last three banks to fail were made whole whether insured or not and there is talk that all deposits should be explicitly (rather than just implicitly) insured. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDCs) would provide such total protection to those holding it (retail CBDCs would be issued/administered by commercial banks and fully backed by an equivalent amount at the central bank).
Public “runs” on banks in order to move vulnerable deposits to cash or a safer bank, result from the fact that banks can fund long term loans with callable deposits. They can lend your deposit to someone buying a house with a 30-year mortgage. This works as long as banks keep enough cash or quickly liquidated assets on hand to cover any deposit withdrawals their depositors might want to make. An alternative to deposit insurance for all deposits is to isolate demand deposits from bank lendable resources by requiring that they be 100% back at the central bank (as with CBDCs) and not available to cover any losses on other bank activities.
It is time to take so called narrow banking (or The Chicago Plan) seriously. CBDCs are the natural vehicle for this restructuring of our money and credit systems. “Protecting bank deposits”