Karen Petrou: How An Ill-Designed Special Assessment Is Sure To Scramble The Structure Of Federal Deposit Insurance

2023-05-15T11:52:36-04:00May 15th, 2023|The Vault|

As our forthcoming in-depth analysis will detail, the FDIC’s proposed special assessment raises a raft of policy problems not contemplated by the FDIC despite a steep price tag warranting careful thought at a time of financial instability and recessionary risk.  The FedFin analysis will detail the proposal, what the FDIC thinks, and what the proposal might do to whom, but here’s my opinion:  the FDIC’s decision to allocate blame for SVB and Signature’s failures to a select group of surviving larger banks is a politically-expedient violation of the principal of insurance and a terrible precedent for the future of federal deposit coverage.

First problem: the FDIC assigns blame to a large group of bigger banks even though its own analysis of the SVB and SBNY failures points to a different underlying reason for the systemic designation.  In the proposal, the FDIC targets large holdings of uninsured deposits even though both its post-mortem and the Fed’s of the two systemic failures cites bad management as the most important cause of death.  Both agencies do note the new risks posed by social-media runs that hastened the banks’ passing, but each also makes it clear that these new-age runs are an endemic challenge to bank resilience, not a risk unique to SVB and Signature or other banks with large amounts of uninsured deposits.  The FDIC proposal contains no explanation of why uninsured-depositories are the systemic rescue’s fall guys even though these deposits aren’t the cause of the two bank failures and the risks …