"COVID-19, Macroeconomic and Sustainability Shocks, Moral Hazard and Resolution of Systemic Banking Crises: Designing Appropriate Systems of Public Support"Douglas W. Arner, Emilios Avgouleas and Evan C. Gibson
European Business Organization Law Review
Published in 2022
Abstract: Banks have so far weathered well the financial turbulence caused by COVID-19 while at the same time being central in the economic and financial response. As the crisis moves from its initial phase as a short-term liquidity shock, the financial sector is facing increasing volumes of non-performing loans, raising the spectre of a banking solvency crisis. In economies already burdened with low-quality assets, the COVID-19 fallout is intensifying existing problems with legacy loans heightening the risk of a banking crisis. These issues are now being worsened by the impact of inflation and the invasion of Ukraine. Thus, addressing increasing volumes of bad loans, while supporting the proper functioning of the financial system, is a major challenge with systemic repercussions for a range of economies. This paper identifies a great paradox: since the bank rescues of the 2008–9 Global Financial Crisis there has been a disproportionate focus on the liability side of bank balance sheets through resolution measures such as bail-in and the accumulation of bail-inable debt. Post-crisis bank resolution regimes have overlooked solutions lying within the asset side of bank balance sheets. This paper analyses historical evidence to argue that concentrating on a liability-focused approach to the exclusion of asset-side solutions is ill-conceived. An excessive accumulation of non-performing loans on the asset side of bank balance sheets inevitably renders resolution interventions on the liability/equity side ineffective or at the very least insufficient to maintain banking system viability and financial stability. Bank asset restructuring involving the use of asset management companies, asset protection schemes and even capital injections can play a critical role in achieving an expeditious restoration of banking systems’ health following a major macroeconomic, sustainability or financial crisis.