Bank runs without self-fulfilling prophecies

BIS Working Papers No 106
December 2001
This paper proposes that bank runs are unique equilibrium outcomes instead of self-fulfilling prophecies. By assuming that depositors make their withdrawal decisions sequentially, the model provides an equilibrium-selection mechanism in the economy. A bank run would occur if and only if depositors perceive a low return on bank assets. Furthermore, a panic situation arises only when the market information is imperfect. A two-stage variant of the model shows that banks would deliberately offer a demand-deposit contract that is susceptive to bank runs.