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Illiquidity and all its friends

  • Jean Tirole

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 statistics, 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 analyses 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 analyses optimal combinations thereof; it stresses the need for macro-prudential policies.

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Paper provided by Bank for International Settlements in its series BIS Working Papers with number 303.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:303
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  4. Heider, F. & Hoerova, M. & Holthausen, C., 2009. "Liquidity Hoarding and Interbank Market Spreads : The Role of Counterparty Risk," Discussion Paper 2009-40 S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  8. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-88, May.
  9. Harald Uhlig, 2009. "A Model of a Systemic Bank Run," Working Papers 2009-006, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
  10. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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  14. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Tirole, Jean, 1996. "Controlling Risk in Payment Systems," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 832-62, November.
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  16. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Tirole, Jean, 1996. "Interbank Lending and Systemic Risk," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 733-62, November.
  17. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2003. "Excessive Dollar Debt: Financial Development and Underinsurance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(2), pages 867-894, 04.
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  20. Goodhart, C., 2008. "Liquidity risk management," Financial Stability Review, Banque de France, issue 11, pages 39-44, February.
  21. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton & Jean Tirole, 2004. "Exit Options in Corporate Finance: Liquidity versus Incentives," Review of Finance, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 327-353.
  22. Guillaume Plantin & Haresh Sapra & Hyun Song Shin, 2008. "Marking-to-Market: Panacea or Pandora's Box?," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 435-460, 05.
  23. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
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