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Working Paper, No. 2003-01, 2003
A Proposal for Efficiently Resolving Out-of-the-Money Swap Positions at Large Insolvent Banks
Recent evidence suggests that bank regulators appear to be able to resolve insolvent large banks efficiently without either protecting uninsured deposits through invoking “too-big-tofail” or causing serious harm to other banks or financial markets. But resolving swap positions at insolvent banks, particularly a bank’s out-of-the-money positions, has received less attention. The FDIC can now either repudiate these contracts and treat the in-themoney counterparties as at-risk general creditors or transfer the contracts to a solvent bank. Both options have major drawbacks. Terminating contracts abruptly may result in largefire sale losses and ignite defaults in other swap contracts. Transferring the contracts both is costly to the FDIC and protects the counterparties, who would otherwise be at-risk and monitor their banks. This paper proposes a third option that keeps the benefits of both options but eliminates the undesirable costs. It permits the contracts to be transferred, thus avoiding the potential for fire-sale losses and adverse spillover, but keeps the insolvent bank’s in-the-money counterparties at-risk, thus maintaining discipline on banks by large and sophisticated creditors.


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