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When Safe Proved Risky: Commercial Paper During the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009

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  • Marcin Kacperczyk
  • Philipp Schnabl

Abstract

Commercial paper is one of the largest money market instruments and has long been viewed as a safe haven for investors seeking low risk. However, during the financial crisis of 2007-2009, the commercial paper market experienced twice the modern-day equivalent of a bank run with investors unwilling to refinance maturing commercial paper. We analyze the supply of and demand for commercial paper and show that, in contrast to previous turbulent episodes, the crisis centered on commercial paper issued by, or guaranteed by, financial institutions. We describe the importance of Federal Reserve’s interventions in restoring stability of the market. Finally, we propose three possible explanations for the sharp decline of the commercial paper market: substitution to alternative sources of financing by commercial paper issuers, adverse selection, and institutional constraints among money market funds.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15538.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Publication status: published as Marcin Kacperczyk & Philipp Schnabl, 2010. "When Safe Proved Risky: Commercial Paper during the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 29-50, Winter.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15538

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