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

Author

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  • Marcin Kacperczyk
  • Philipp Schnabl

Abstract

Commercial paper is a short-term debt instrument issued by large corporations. The commercial paper market has long been viewed as a bastion of high liquidity and low risk. But twice during the financial crisis of 2007-2009, the commercial paper market nearly dried up and ceased being perceived as a safe haven. Major interventions by the Federal Reserve, including large outright purchases of commercial paper, were eventually used to support both issuers of and investors in commercial paper. We will offer an analysis of the commercial paper market during the financial crisis. First, we describe the institutional background of the commercial paper market. Second, we analyze the supply and demand sides of the market. Third, we examine the most important developments during the crisis of 2007-2009. Last, we discuss three explanations of the decline in the commercial paper market: substitution to alternative sources of financing by commercial paper issuers, adverse selection, and institutional constraints among money market funds.

Suggested Citation

  • 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:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:1:p:29-50
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.1.29
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.24.1.29
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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