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International Lending of Last Resort and Moral Hazard: A Model of the IMF's Catalytic Finance


  • Corsetti, Giancarlo
  • Guimarães, Bernardo
  • Roubini, Nouriel


The provision of liquidity by international institutions such as the IMF to countries experiencing balance of payment problems could prevent liquidity runs but could also cause moral hazard distortions: expecting to be bailed out by the IMF, debtor countries would have weak incentives to implement good but costly policies, thus raising the probability of a crisis. This Paper presents an analytical framework to study the trade-off between official liquidity provision and debtor moral hazard. In our model international financial crises are caused by the interaction of bad fundamentals, self-fulfilling runs and policies by three classes of optimizing agents: international investors, the local government and the IMF. We show how an international financial institution helps prevent liquidity runs via coordination of agents’ expectations, by raising the number of investors willing to lend to the country for any given level of the fundamental; i.e., partial liquidity support can have a catalytic effect on investors. The influence of such an institution is increasing in the size of its interventions and the precision of its information: more liquidity support and better information make agents more willing to roll over their debt and reduce the probability of a crisis. Different from the conventional view stressing debtor moral hazard, we show that official lending may actually strengthen a government incentive to implement desirable but costly policies. By worsening the expected return on these policies, destructive liquidity runs may well discourage governments from undertaking them, unless they can count on contingent liquidity assistance.

Suggested Citation

  • Corsetti, Giancarlo & Guimarães, Bernardo & Roubini, Nouriel, 2004. "International Lending of Last Resort and Moral Hazard: A Model of the IMF's Catalytic Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 4383, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4383

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Weinschelbaum, Federico & Wynne, Jose, 2005. "Renegotiation, collective action clauses and sovereign debt markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 47-72, September.
    2. Iván Werning & George-Marios Angeletos, 2006. "Crises and Prices: Information Aggregation, Multiplicity, and Volatility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1720-1736, December.
    3. Francesca Viani, 2005. "International Monetary Fund Resources and Contagion Mechanisms: A Hypothesis," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 95(6), pages 69-103, November-.
    4. Pavan, Alessandro & Angeletos, George-Marios, 2013. "Selection-free predictions in global games with endogenous information and multiple equilibria," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(3), September.
    5. George-Marios Angeletos & Alessandro Pavan, 2007. "Dynamic Global Games of Regime Change: Learning, Multiplicity and Timing of Attacks," Discussion Papers 1497, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    6. George-Marios Angeletos & Christian Hellwig & Alessandro Pavan, 2004. "Information Dynamics and Equilibrium Multiplicity in Global Games of Regime Change," NBER Working Papers 11017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Xavier Vives, 2014. "Strategic Complementarity, Fragility, and Regulation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 27(12), pages 3547-3592.
    8. Carlos de Resende, 2007. "IMF-Supported Adjustment Programs: Welfare Implications and the Catalytic Effect," Staff Working Papers 07-22, Bank of Canada.
    9. Xavier Vives, 2011. "Competition and Stability in Banking," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Luis Felipe Céspedes & Roberto Chang & Diego Saravia (ed.), Monetary Policy under Financial Turbulence, edition 1, volume 16, chapter 12, pages 455-502 Central Bank of Chile.
    10. Lucian A. Bebchuk & Itay Goldstein, 2011. "Self-fulfilling Credit Market Freezes," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(11), pages 3519-3555.
    11. Cecile Bastidon & Philippe Gilles & Nicolas Huchet, 2008. "A Selective Bail-Out International Lending of Last Resort Model," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 9(1), pages 103-114, May.
    12. George-Marios Angeletos & Christian Hellwig & Alessandro Pavan, 2006. "Signaling in a Global Game: Coordination and Policy Traps," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(3), pages 452-484, June.
    13. Jun I Kim, 2006. "IMF-Supported Programs and Crisis Prevention; An Analytical Framework," IMF Working Papers 06/156, International Monetary Fund.
    14. Hefeker, Carsten, 2006. "Vermeidung und Bewältigung von Verschuldungskrisen: Die Rolle privater und öffentlicher Institutionen," HWWA Discussion Papers 340, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).

    More about this item


    bank runs; capital account crises; international monetary fund; lender of last resort; speculative attacks;

    JEL classification:

    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative


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