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Reconciling Bagehot with the Fed's response to September 11
The nineteenth-century economist Walter Bagehot maintained that in order to prevent bank panics, a central bank should provide liquidity at a very high rate of interest. However, most of the theoretical literature on liquidity provision suggests that central banks should lend at an interest rate of zero. This latter recommendation is broadly consistent with the Federal Reserve?s behavior in the days following September 11, 2001. This paper shows that Bagehot?s recommendation can be reconciled with the Fed?s policy if one recognizes that Bagehot had in mind a commodity money regime in which ...
Bank Liquidity Provision across the Firm Size Distribution
Using loan-level data covering two-thirds of all corporate loans from U.S. banks, we document that SMEs (i) obtain much shorter maturity credit lines than large ﬁrms; (ii) have less active maturity management and therefore frequently have expiring credit; (iii) post more collateral on both credit lines and term loans; (iv) have higher utilization rates in normal times; and (v) pay higher spreads, even conditional on other ﬁrm characteristics. We present a theory of loan terms that rationalizes these facts as the equilibrium outcome of a trade-off between commitment and discretion. We test ...
Private and Public Liquidity Provision in Over-the-Counter Markets
We show that trade frictions in OTC markets result in inefficient private liquidity provision. We develop a dynamic model of market-based financial intermediation with a two-way interaction between primary credit markets and secondary OTC markets. Private allocations are generically inefficient because investors and firms fail to internalize how their actions affect liquidity in secondary markets. This inefficiency can lead to liquidity that is suboptimally low or high compared to the second best. Our analysis provides a rationale for the regulation and public provision of liquidity and the ...
The Federal Reserve System and World War I: Designing Policies without Precedent
The Federal Reserve System failed to prevent the collapse of intermediation during the Great Depression (1929-1933) and took action as if it was unaware of policies that should have been taken in the event of widespread bank runs. The National Banking Era panics and techniques to alleviate them should have been useful references for how to alleviate a financial crisis. We suggest that the overwhelming effort to finance World War I combined with a perspective held by contemporary Federal Reserve officials that the central bank legislation was sufficient to overcome financial crises are key ...
Turnover in Fedwire Funds Has Dropped Considerably since the Crisis, but It's Okay
The Fedwire Funds Service is a large-value payment system, operated by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that facilitates more than $3 trillion a day in payments. Turnover in Fedwire Funds, the value of payments made for every dollar of liquidity provided, has dropped nearly 75 percent since the crisis. Should we be concerned? In this post, we explain why turnover has dropped so much and argue that it is, in fact, a good thing.
The Effect of Safe Assets on Financial Fragility in a Bank-Run Model
Risk-averse investors induce competitive intermediaries to hold safe assets, thereby lowering the probability of a run and reducing financial fragility. We revisit Goldstein and Pauzner (2005), who obtain a unique equilibrium in the banking model of Diamond and Dybvig (1983) by introducing risky investment and noisy private signals. We show that, in the optimal demand-deposit contract subject to sequential service, banks hold safe assets to insure investors against investment risk. Consequently, fewer investors withdraw prematurely, which reduces the probability of a bank run. Safe asset ...
Weathering the Storm: Who Can Access Credit in a Pandemic?
Credit enables firms to weather temporary disruptions in their business that may impair their cash flow and limit their ability to meet commitments to suppliers and employees. The onset of the COVID recession sparked a massive increase in bank credit, largely driven by firms drawing on pre-committed credit lines. In this post, which is based on a recent Staff Report, we investigate which firms were able to tap into bank credit to help sustain their business over the ensuing downturn.