AbstractBank shareholders cannot be expected to provide good stewardship to banks because there is a conflict of interests between the shareholder owners and a non-mutually owned bank's depositors; who provide the bulk of the funds in traditional retail banks and are willing to accept a lower return on their savings than shareholders, in return for lower risk exposure. Regulation is required to protect depositors where deposit insurance schemes are at best partially funded and underwritten by taxpayers, who in turn need to be protected, and to deliver financial stability, a public good. Once some banks become 'too big (to be allowed) to fail' (TBTF), they enjoy additional implicit public (taxpayer) insurance that enables them to fund themselves more cheaply than smaller banks, which gives them a competitive advantage. The political influence of big banks in the US and the UK is such that they can be regarded as financial oligarchies that have hitherto successfully blocked far reaching structural reform in the wake of the 'Global Financial Crisis' and lobbied successfully for the financial sector liberalisation that preceded it. The TBTF problem and associated moral hazard have been worsened by mergers to save failing banks during the crisis and as a result competition within a number of national banking systems, notably the UK, has been significantly reduced. Solutions alternative to making the banks small enough to be allowed to fail are considered in this paper, but it is difficult to be convinced that they will deliver banks that promote the common or public good. It is argued that regulating retail banking as a utility and pooling insurance against financial instability using pre-funded deposit insurance schemes, with risk related premiums that can also serve as bank resolution funds, should be pursued; and that capital leverage ratios and/or Financial Activity Taxes might be used to 'tax' the size of banks. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mullineux, A., 2013. Banking for the public good. International Review of Financial Analysis.