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This paper analyzes the effects of bail-in and bailout policies on banks’ funding costs, incentives for loan monitoring, and financing capacity. In a model with moral hazard and two investment stages, a full bail-in turns out to be, ex post, the optimal policy to deal with a failing bank. Unlike a bailout, it allows the government to recapitalize the bank without resorting to distortionary taxes. As a consequence, however, investors expect bail-ins rather than bailouts. Ex ante, this raises banks’ cost of debt and depresses bankers’ incentives to monitor. When moral hazard is severe, this time inconsistency leads to a credit market collapse in which productive projects are not financed, unless the government precommits to an alternative resolution policy. The optimal policy is either a combination of bail-in and bailout—in which the government uses a minimal amount of public transfers to lower banks’ cost of debt—or liquidation, depending on the severity of moral hazard and the shadow cost of the partial bailout.

This paper was accepted by Gustavo Manso, finance.

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