The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Governments frequently assist troubled banks. This paper examines the fiscal aspects of such assistance: rationale, design criteria, methods, and macroeconomic implications. It concludes that (1) banks should be assisted only when there is a clear systemic risk; (2) assistance should be tied to a comprehensive restructuring program, minimize fiscal cost, be equitable and transparent, prevent recurrence, and facilitate a sound macroeconomic environment; (3) debt-based assistance will worsen public sector debt sustainability and will probably increase aggregate demand; and (4) assistance may require a substantial fiscal response (especially given the possible need for a looser monetary stance), which should feed iteratively into the choice of restructuring strategy.