Liquidity and reserve requirements in Brazil
The international reform initiative that followed the global financial crisis of 2008-09 has resulted in the introduction of liquidity requirements for banks. Under one requirement, the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR), banks will need to hold enough highly liquid assets to survive for a month in a stress scenario. Banks' required reserve balances can be used to fulfill this liquidity requirement and this may be seen as an attractive option for emerging market economies, where financial sectors are often underdeveloped. In this paper, I examine the Brazilian experience prior to and during the global crisis as a case study that can shed light into the challenges of using reserve requirements as a liquidity management tool. Brazilian reserve requirements did not ensure adequate liquidity, in part because the smallest banks were exempted from the requirements. Financial innovations were also used by banks to circumvent reserve requirements. In Brazil, the use of reserve requirements as a liquidity management tool is often justified by the argument that reserve requirements fulfilled a critical liquidity provision role in the fall of 2008. I argue that Brazilian reserve requirements did not actually serve well the liquidity provision goal.
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