Article | Journal of Financial Economics | December 2013

Reputational Contagion and Optimal Regulatory Forbearance

by Alan Morrison and Lucy White


Existing studies suggest that systemic crises may arise because banks either hold correlated assets or are connected by interbank lending. This paper shows that common regulation is also a conduit for interbank contagion. One bank's failure may undermine confidence in the banking regulator's competence, and, hence, in other banks chartered by the same regulator. As a result, depositors withdraw funds from otherwise unconnected banks. The optimal regulatory response to this behavior can be privately to exhibit forbearance to a failing bank. We show that regulatory transparency improves confidence ex ante but impedes regulators' ability to stem panics ex post.

Keywords: Reputation; Financial Crisis; Banks and Banking; Banking Industry;


Morrison, Alan, and Lucy White. "Reputational Contagion and Optimal Regulatory Forbearance." Journal of Financial Economics 110, no. 3 (December 2013): 642–658.