Bail In (Finance) – Definition

Cite this article as:"Bail In (Finance) – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated July 30, 2019, last accessed May 30, 2020,


Bail-In Definition

A bail-in is a relief or rescue strategy offered to a financial institution that is on the verge of collapse. This relief entails that creditors, depositors or bondholders of the company or financial institution bear part of the company’s burden. A bail-in differs from a bail-out. Usually, in a bail-out, a financial institution is rescued by external parties such as the government but a bail-in requires that creditors and depositors of the financial institution write off the debt the company owes them or they convert the debt owed to equity.

A Little More on What is a Bail-In

Bail-in just like a bail-out is a strategy used in rescuing a financial institution that is at the verge of collapse from crisis. Both strategies however differ in operation, while bail-in entails using insiders to rescue the company from crisis, bail-out seek relief from external parties.

Bondholders, creditors and investors in a financial institution are crucial when suing a bail-in, thi is because they keep the institution solvent by writing off the debt the company owes them or converting the debt to equity. External bodies such as the government can also keep a financial institution or an economy from insolvency, this happened in 2008 during the financial crisis. Here are some essential things to note about bail-ins;

  • A bail-in is an effective way of preventing a financial institution from becoming insolvent.
  • It is based on insider approach, in which investors and bondholders in the financial institution write off their debts to keep the institution form crisis.
  • Bail-ins and bail-outs are effective in keeping companies ways from financial turbulence or crisis.
  • Bail-ins are used as the first approach to rescuing a company from crisis before the company can thereafter settle for a bail-out.
  • Creditors take losses in bail-ins while they are prevented from losses in bail-outs.

All over the globe, bail-in is now being considered as the first strategy used in solving a company’s financial problems. Although, in previous times, bail-outs are more popular than bail-ins but bail-ins are beginning to be used by economists worldwide. Europe has used bail-in schemes to solve many of its problems, countries also use bail-in schemes in situations where it is uncertain to get a government bailout.

In some cases, the government might have the capacity to provide a bail-out, the, a country has no alternative than to reset to bail-in.

Examples of Bail Ins

In Cyprus, a bail-in strategy was used as a rescue strategy. Although, bil-in schemes were not popular at this time, the Cyprus experiment of bail-in gave it much recognition. The government officials in Cyprus use the bail-in strategy in 2013 as a rescue strategy, the caused large investors or depositors a part of their deposits. For example, people with deposits of more than 100,000 euros lost a significant portion of it. Their losses were however compensated by the issuance of stock, although the stock did not give as much value as their deposits but it was a relief.

Another significant example of the use of bail-in schemes was in 2018 when the Europen union absorbed bail-ins into its resolution or framework. Bail-ins are designed to be used as a first approach to resolving financial crisis, this requires that creditors or investors would write off debts owed by an institution or convert them to equity. If bail-in strategy can however not resolve the financial issue, bail-outs will be adopted.

Reference for “Bail-In”

Academics research on “Bail-In”

The bailin problem: systematic goals, ad hoc means, Eichengreen, B., & Ruehl, C. (2001). The bail-in problem: systematic goals, ad hoc means. Economic Systems25(1), 3-32. In this paper we analyze recent efforts of the international financial institutions to limit the moral hazard created by their assistance to crisis countries. We question the wisdom of the case-by-case approach taken in Pakistan, Ecuador, Romania and Ukraine. We show that because default and restructuring are painful and costly, it is simply not time consistent for the IFIs to plan to stand aside if the markets refuse to roll over maturing claims, restructure problem debts, or provide new money. Because these realities create an incentive to disburse even if investors fail to comply, the IFIs are then placed in the position of having to back down on their previous conditionality, which undermines their credibility. And since investors are aware of these facts, their behavior is unlikely to be modified by the IFIs’ less-than-credible statements of intent. Hence, this approach to “bailing in the private sector” will not work. Fortunately, there is an alternative: introducing collective-action clauses into loan agreements. This, and not ad hoc efforts to bail in the private sector, is the forward-looking solution to the moral hazard problem.

Critical reflections on bank bail-ins, Avgouleas, E., & Goodhart, C. (2015). Critical reflections on bank bail-ins. Journal of Financial Regulation1(1), 3-29. Many of the world’s developed economies have introduced, or are planning to introduce, bank bail-in regimes that involve the participation of bank creditors in bearing the costs of restoring a failing bank to health. There is a long list of actual or hypothetical advantages attached to the bail-in process. Therefore, there is a need for a closer examination of the bail-in process, if it is to become a successful substitute to the unpopular bailout approach. The bail-in tool involves replacing the implicit public guarantee, on which fractional reserve banking has operated, with a system of private penalties. The bail-in approach may, indeed, be much superior to bailouts in the case of idiosyncratic failure. In other cases, the bail-in process may entail important risks. The article provides a legal and economic analysis of some of the key potential risks bail-ins may entail both in the domestic and cross-border contexts. It explains why bail-in regimes will not eradicate the need for injection of public funds where there is a threat of systemic collapse, because a number of banks have simultaneously entered into difficulties, or in the event of the failure of a large complex cross-border bank, unless the failure was clearly idiosyncratic.

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