Cross-Border Banking: Challenges for Deposit Insurance and Financial Stability in the European Union

Robert A. Eisenbeis and George G. Kaufman
Working Paper 2006-15a
Revised January 2007

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This paper examines the implications that alternative regulatory structures may have for resolving failed banking institutions. We place our emphasis on the European Union (EU), which is both economically and financially large and has several features relating to cross-border banking in the form of direct investment that may heighten the problems we consider. We propose four principles to ensure the efficient resolution of bank failures, should they occur, with minimum, if any, credit and liquidity losses. These principles include prompt legal closure of institutions before they become economically insolvent, prompt identification of claims and assignment of losses, prompt reopening of failed institutions, and prompt recapitalizing and reprivatization of failed institutions. Finally, we propose a mechanism to put such a scheme into place quickly in the case where a cross-border banking organization seeks to take advantage of the liberal cross-border branching provisions in the single banking license available to banks in the EU. In return for the privilege of such a license, the bank agrees to be subject to a legal closure rule as a positive capital ratio established by the EU or the home country.

JEL classification: G28, G33, G38, D74, D83, G21

Key words: cross-border banking, financial crises, bank regulatory structure, branching, banking subsidiaries, supervision and regulation

A shorter version of this paper under the title “Challenges for Deposit Insurance and Financial Stability in Cross-Border Banking Environments with Emphasis on the European Union” was presented at a conference on cross-border banking at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on October 6–7, 2005, and will be published by World Scientific in a forthcoming book of the same name. It was also presented at the third annual Economic and Financial Affairs Research Conference, “Adjustment under Monetary Unions: Financial Market Issues,” held on September 7–8, 2006, in Brussels, Belgium, and sponsored by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, Economic Studies, and Research. The views expressed here are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors’ responsibility.

Please address questions regarding content to Robert A. Eisenbeis, Executive Vice President and Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309-4470, 404-498-8824, 404-498-8956 (fax),, or George G. Kaufman, John Smith Professor of Banking, Loyola University, 25 East Pearson Street, Chicago, IL 60611, 312-915-7075, 312-915-8508 (fax),

For further information, contact the Public Affairs Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30309-4470, 404-498-8020.