Financial podcasts have been featuring ominous headlines lately along the lines of “Your Bank Can Legally Seize Your Money” and “Banks Can STEAL Your Money?! Here’s How!” The reference is to “bail-ins:” the provision under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act allowing Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs, basically the biggest banks) to bail in or expropriate their creditors’ money in the event of insolvency. The problem is that depositors are classed as “creditors.” So how big is the risk to your deposit account? Part I of this two part article will review the bail-in issue. Part II will look at the derivatives risk that could trigger the next global financial crisis.
From Bailouts to Bail-Ins
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 states in its preamble that it will “protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts.” But it does this under Title II by imposing the losses of insolvent financial companies on their common and preferred stockholders, debtholders, and other unsecured creditors, through an “orderly resolution” plan known as a “bail-in.”
The point of an orderly resolution under the Act is not to make depositors and other creditors whole. It is to prevent a systemwide disorderly resolution of the sort that followed the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008. Under the old liquidation rules, an insolvent bank was actually “liquidated”—its assets were sold off to repay depositors and creditors.
In an “orderly resolution,” the accounts of depositors and other creditors are emptied to keep the insolvent bank in business. And even if you are getting only a few cents a month on your deposits, you are a creditor of the bank. As explained in a December 2016 article in the University of Chicago Law Review titled “Safe Banking: Finance and Democracy:”
Full text: https://www.unz.com/article/what-will-happen-when-banks-go-bust-bank-runs-bail-ins-and-systemic-risk/