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Unintended Consequences of LOLR Facilities: The Case of Illiquid Leverage

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  • Acharya, Viral V
  • Tuckman, Bruce

Abstract

While the direct effect of lender-of-last-resort (LOLR) facilities is to forestall the default of financial firms that lose funding liquidity, an indirect effect is to allow these firms to minimize deleveraging sales of illiquid assets. This unintended consequence of LOLR facilities manifests itself as excess illiquid leverage in the financial sector, can make future liquidity shortfalls more likely, and can lead to an increase in default risks. Furthermore, this increase in default risk can occur despite the fact that the combination of LOLR facilities and reduced asset sales raises the prices of illiquid assets. The behavior of U.S. broker-dealers during the crisis of 2007-2009 is consistent with the unintended consequence just described. In particular, given the Federal Reserve's LOLR facilities, broker-dealers could afford to try to wait out the crisis. While they did reduce traditional measures of leverage to varying degrees, they failed to reduce sufficiently their illiquid leverage, which contributed to their failures or near failures. Several mechanisms to address this unintended consequence of LOLR facilities are proposed: condition LOLR access and terms on the financial health of borrowers; condition LOLR access and terms on asset sales and deleveraging; and, especially, instead of supporting troubled financial firms, open LOLR facilities to financially sound, potential buyers of illiquid assets.

Suggested Citation

  • Acharya, Viral V & Tuckman, Bruce, 2013. "Unintended Consequences of LOLR Facilities: The Case of Illiquid Leverage," CEPR Discussion Papers 9784, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9784
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Weber, Patrick, 2015. "Does the Eurosystem's lender of last resort facility has a structurally di fferent option value across banks?," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113123, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Céline Gauthier & Alfred Lehar & Héctor Pérez Saiz & Moez Souissi, 2015. "Emergency Liquidity Facilities, Signalling and Funding Costs," Staff Working Papers 15-44, Bank of Canada.
    3. F. Koulischer, 2015. "Asymmetric shocks in a currency union: The role of central bank collateral policy," Working papers 554, Banque de France.
    4. Pierluigi Morelli & Giovanni Pittaluga & Elena Seghezza, 2015. "The role of the Federal Reserve as an international lender of last resort during the 2007–2008 financial crisis," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 93-106, March.
    5. Erce, Aitor, 2015. "Bank and sovereign risk feedback loops," Globalization Institute Working Papers 227, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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