Staff Reports
Does Going Easy on Distressed Banks Help Economic Growth?
October 2017 Number 823
RevisedJanuary 2018
JEL classification: G01, G2, H12

Author: Sean Hundtofte

During banking crises, regulators often relax their requirements and refrain from closing troubled banks. I estimate the real effects of such regulatory forbearance during the U.S. savings and loan crisis by comparing states' economic outcomes by the amount of forbearance they receive. As instruments, I use historical variation in deposit insurance of similar financial intermediaries (thrifts) and exploit geographic variation in principal supervisory agent (PSA). The evidence suggests a policy-induced real estate boom during forbearance (1982-89), followed by a bigger bust in real estate and real GDP. The relationship does not appear driven by the ex ante size, industry exposure, or systematic cyclicality of a state.

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