NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

A Contracting-Theory Interpretation of the Origins of Federal Deposit Insurance

Edward J. Kane, Berry K. Wilson

NBER Working Paper No. 6451
Issued in March 1998
NBER Program(s):   CF

Conventional wisdom holds that the enactment of federal deposit insurance helped small rural banks at the expense of large urban institutions. This paper uses asymmetric information, agency-cost paradigms from corporate finance theory and data on bank stock prices to show how deposit insurance could and did help stockholders of large banks. The broadening stockholder distribution of large banks during the stock market bubble of the late 1920s undermined the efficiency of double liability provisions in controlling incentive conflict among large bank stakeholders. Federal deposit insurance restored depositor confidence by asking government officials to take over and bond the task of monitoring managerial performance and solvency at U.S. banks.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6451

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