Breakdown: what went wrong with deposit insurance in Russia
Post-Communist Economies, 2023, vol. 35, issue 1, 41-58
The paper examines the Russian experience with explicit deposit guarantee. Some of its effects, such as moral hazard, adverse selection, and erosion of discipline, are typical and well-researched by previous authors. The social cost of having this institution in Russia turned out to be abnormally high, while the results in terms of bank stability are questionable. More than half of the insurance system members have gone out of business in a matter of just fifteen years. I examine the inception of deposit insurance in Russia, its design, implementation and political economy, using various theoretical approaches and combining qualitative with quantitative evidence. I argue that explicit deposit guarantee by a government agency was a priori redundant, in view of the extraordinary role of state-owned banks. The new institution was used as a tool for structural change and competition enhancement, which I regard as misuse. Deposit guarantee was enacted prematurely, before other essential institutions of bank regulation were in place. The political economy of deposit insurance reveals the political system’s vulnerability to uncontained pressure from private special interests demanding public protection. The new institution was captured by interest groups and exploited for private benefit. The evidence from Russia might be relevant to other emerging market countries.
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