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Monetary Policy in a Low Interest Rate Environment: Reversal Rate and Risk-Taking

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  • Heider, Florian
  • Leonello, Agnese

Abstract

This paper develops a simple analytical framework to study the impact of central bank policy-rate changes on banks’ credit supply and risk-taking incentives. Unobservable expost bank monitoring of loans creates an external-financing constraint, which determines bank leverage. Unobservable, costly ex-ante screening of borrowers determines the level of bank risk-taking. More risk-taking tightens the external-financing constraint. The policy rate affects the external-financing constraint because it affects both the return on outside investors’ alternative investments and loan rates. In a low rate environment, a policy-rate cut reduces bank funding costs less because of a zero lower bound (ZLB) on retail deposit rates. Bank risk-taking is a necessary but not sufficient for a policy-rate cut to become contractionary ("reversal"). Reversal can occur even though banks’ net-interest margins increase. Credit market competition plays an important role for the interplay of monetary policy and financing stability. When banks have market power, a policy-rate cut can increase lending and still lead to risk-taking. We use our analytical framework to discuss the literature on how monetary policy affects the credit supply of banks, with special emphasis on low and negative rates. JEL Classification: E44, E52, E58, G20, G21

Suggested Citation

  • Heider, Florian & Leonello, Agnese, 2021. "Monetary Policy in a Low Interest Rate Environment: Reversal Rate and Risk-Taking," Working Paper Series 2593, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20212593
    Note: 276127
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    3. Ahnert, Toni & Assenmacher, Katrin & Hoffmann, Peter & Leonello, Agnese & Monnet, Cyril & Porcellacchia, Davide, 2022. "The economics of central bank digital currency," Working Paper Series 2713, European Central Bank.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bank lending; deposits; equity multiplier; zero-lower bound;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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