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Illiquidity and All Its Friends

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  • Jean Tirole

Abstract

The recent crisis was characterized by massive illiquidity. This paper reviews what we know and don't know about illiquidity and all its friends: market freezes, fire sales, contagion, and ultimately insolvencies and bailouts. It first explains why liquidity cannot easily be apprehended through a single statistic, and asks whether liquidity should be regulated given that a capital adequacy requirement is already in place. The paper then analyzes market breakdowns due to either adverse selection or shortages of financial muscle, and explains why such breakdowns are endogenous to balance sheet choices and to information acquisition. It then looks at what economics can contribute to the debate on systemic risk and its containment. Finally, the paper takes a macroeconomic perspective, discusses shortages of aggregate liquidity, and analyzes how market value accounting and capital adequacy should react to asset prices. It concludes with a topical form of liquidity provision, monetary bailouts and recapitalizations, and analyzes optimal combinations thereof; it stresses the need for macro-prudential policies. ( JEL E44, G01, G21, G28, G32, L51)

Suggested Citation

  • Jean Tirole, 2011. "Illiquidity and All Its Friends," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 287-325, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:49:y:2011:i:2:p:287-325
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.49.2.287
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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