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Private and Public Supply of Liquidity

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  • Bengt Holmstrom
  • Jean Tirole

Abstract

This paper addresses a basic yet unresolved question: Do claims on private assets provide sufficient liquidity for an efficient functioning of the productive sector? Or does the State have a role in creating liquidity and regulating it either through adjustments in the stock of government securities or by other means? In our model, firms can meet future liquidity needs in three ways: by issuing new claims and diluting old ones, by obtaining a credit credit line from a financial intermediary, and by holding claims on other firms. When there is no aggregate uncertainty, we show that these instruments are sufficient for attaining the socially optimal (second-best) contract between investors and firms. Such a contract imposes both a maximum leverage ratio and a liquidity constraint on firms. Intermediaries coordinate the use of liquidity. Without intermediation, scarce liquidity may be wasted and the social optimum may not be attainable. When there is only aggregate uncertainty the private sector is no longer self-sufficient with regard to liquidity. The government can improve liquidity by issuing bonds that commit future consumer income. Government bonds command a liquidity premium over private claims. The supply of liquidity can be managed by loosening liquidity (boosting the value of its securities) when the aggregate liquidity shock is high and tightening liquidity when the shock is low. The paper thus provides a microeconomic example of government supplied liquidity as well as of the possibility of active government policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5817.

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Date of creation: Nov 1996
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Publication status: published as Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 106, no. 1 (February 1998): 1-40.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5817

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  1. Hart, O. & Moore, J., 1989. "Default And Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model Of Debt," Working papers 520, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Steve Williamson & Randall Wright, 1991. "Barter and monetary exchange under private information," Staff Report 141, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1992. " Liquidation Values and Debt Capacity: A Market Equilibrium Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1343-66, September.
  4. Bryant, John, 1980. "A model of reserves, bank runs, and deposit insurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-344, December.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds and the Real Sector," Working papers 95-1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Williamson, Stephen D., 1986. "Costly monitoring, financial intermediation, and equilibrium credit rationing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 159-179, September.
  7. Ramakrishnan, Ram T S & Thakor, Anjan V, 1984. "Information Reliability and a Theory of Financial Intermediation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 415-32, July.
  8. Hellwig, Martin, 1994. "Liquidity provision, banking, and the allocation of interest rate risk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1363-1389, August.
  9. Jeremy C. Stein, 1998. "An Adverse-Selection Model of Bank Asset and Liability Management with Implications for the Transmission of Monetary Policy," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(3), pages 466-486, Autumn.
  10. Williamson, Stephen D., 1992. "Laissez-faire banking and circulating media of exchange," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 134-167, June.
  11. Gorton, Gary & Pennacchi, George, 1990. " Financial Intermediaries and Liquidity Creation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(1), pages 49-71, March.
  12. Elul Ronel, 1995. "Welfare Effects of Financial Innovation in Incomplete Markets Economies with Several Consumption Goods," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 43-78, February.
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