The ‘big bad bank run’ is very quiet

bank run as defined by Barron’s dictionary of banking terminology as follows: ‘A series of unexpected cash withdrawals caused by a sudden decline of depositor confidence or the fear that a bank will be closed by the chartering agency. Today the ‘silent run’ is much more prevalent than bank runs in the past where customers lined up in front of the tellers window and demanded their cash. Today depositors simply transfer interest rate sensitive funds – called ‘hot money’ to other institutions, also called ‘a run on the bank’.

Several things have been happening in Ireland that feed into this, firstly is that some banks are leaving the country, that partly helps to make the €40bn that left in December make sense (the figure for all of 2010 is about €110bn). Then there are confidence issues with downgrades and the like.

One of the most common personal finance questions I get is about deposits being safe in the bank here, and on sums below €100,000 I hand on heart …

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