We construct theory-based measures of systemic bank shocks. These measures complement banking crisis indicators employed in many empirical studies, which we show capture (lagged) policy responses to systemic bank shocks. To illustrate the importance of disentangling shocks and policy responses to these shocks, we assess the impact of deposit insurance and safety net guarantees on both the probability of a systemic bank shock and that of a policy response. We find that deposit insurance and safety net guarantees do not affect the probability of a systemic bank shock, but increase the probability of a policy response to such a shock, consistent with the results of the previous literature. The joint use of measures of systemic bank shocks and policy responses may lead to a policy-relevant re-interpretation of the findings of a large empirical literature.