Selling Failed Banks

Selling Failed Banks

By Joao Granja, Gregor Matvos, Amit Seru
April 10,2016Working Paper No. 3461

We show that the allocation of failed banks in the Great Recession was likely distorted because potential acquirers of these banks were poorly capitalized. We illustrate this phenomenon within a model of auctions with budget constraints. In our model poor capitalization of some potential acquirers drives a wedge between their willingness to pay and the ability to pay for a failed bank. Using our framework, we infer three characteristics that drive potential acquirers’ willingness to pay for a failed bank in the data: geographic proximity, bank specialization, and increased market concentration. Consistent with predictions of our model, we find that low capitalization of potential acquirers decreases their ability to acquire a failed bank. Finally, we show that the wedge between potential acquirers’ willingness and ability to pay distorts the allocation of failed banks. The costs of this misallocation are substantial, as measured by the additional resolution costs of the FDIC. These findings have direct implications for the design of the bank resolution process.