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Given the magnitude of bank losses in many industrial and developing countries today, we hope that Bank Restructuring: Lessons from the 1980s will be a useful guide for policymakers, bank supervisors, and bankers for dealing with these pressing problems of the 1990s and beyond. GARY PERLIN DIRECTOR FINANCIAL SECTOR DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT THE WORLD BANK Page vi Acknowledgments Having moved from the World Bank's development advisory function to the core central bank function of regulating and promoting financial markets in Hong Kong, one of the freest of market economies, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and what should have been done during the banking crises in developing countries in the 1980s.
Large-scale bank failures are simply not acceptable in most economies. In none of the cases studied did governments dare to pass widespread bank losses on to depositors. Most bank losses are absorbed by the budget or by the central bank through explicit or implicit deposit protection schemes. Such schemes place enormous burdens on the budget. During financial crises governments are made to assume considerable debt: all external debt (public or private), internal debt (including debt of public enterprises), and losses in the banking system (public or private).
Global interdependence had reached the point where the solvency not only of debtor countries but also of the lender banks was at stake. By 1990 total foreign liabilities of the global banking system had grown to $7 trillion, more than twice the level of annual world exports. 6 percent in 1990. At the end of 1991 crossborder interbank claims within the area of the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) alone were $4 trillion. Global trading in financial instruments had reached such a level that in a single day the value of payments through twenty-one countries studied by the BIS in 1989 totaled $3 trillion.