Journal of Financial Services Research

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1-35

First online:

How Much Did Banks Pay to Become Too-Big-To-Fail and to Become Systemically Important?

  • Elijah BrewerIIIAffiliated withKellstadt Graduate School of Business, DePaul University
  • , Julapa JagtianiAffiliated withFederal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Supervision, Regulation and Credit Department Email author 

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This paper estimates the value of the too-big-to-fail (TBTF) subsidy. Using data from the merger boom of 1991–2004, we find that banking organizations were willing to pay an added premium for mergers that would put them over the asset sizes that are commonly viewed as the thresholds for being TBTF. We estimate at least $15 billion in added premiums for the eight merger deals that brought the organizations to over $100 billion in assets. In addition, we find that both the stock and bond markets reacted positively to these TBTF merger deals. Our estimated TBTF subsidy is large enough to create serious concern, particularly since the recently assisted mergers have effectively allowed for TBTF banking organizations to become even bigger and for nonbanks to become part of TBTF banking organizations, thus extending the TBTF subsidy beyond banking.


Bank merger Too-big-to-fail TBTF subsidy Systemically important bank

JEL Code

G21 G28 G34