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Reconciling Bagehot with the Fed's response to Sept. 11

  • Antoine Martin

Bagehot (1873) states that in order to prevent bank panics a central bank should provide liquidity to the market at a "very high rate of interest". This seems to be in sharp contrast with the policy adopted by the Federal Reserve after September 11 when, for a few days, the Federal Funds Rate was very close to zero. This paper shows that Bagehot's recommendation can be reconciled with the Fed's policy if one recognizes that Bagehot has in mind a commodity money regime so that the amount of reserves available is limited. A high price for this liquidity allows banks that need it most to self-select. In contrast, the Fed has a virtually unlimited ability to temporarily expand the money supply.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its series Research Working Paper with number RWP 02-10.

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Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:rwp02-10
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  1. Antoine Martin, 2006. "Liquidity provision vs. deposit insurance: preventing bank panics without moral hazard," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 197-211, 05.
  2. Jean-Charles Rochet & Xavier Vives, 2002. "Coordination failures and the lender of last resort: was Bagehot right after all?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24928, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Stephen D. Williamson, 1998. "Discount Window Lending and Deposit Insurance," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 246-275, January.
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  8. Sleet, Christopher & Smith, Bruce D, 2000. "Deposit Insurance and Lender-of-Last-Resort Functions," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 518-75, August.
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  10. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
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  12. Cooper, Russell & Corbae, Dean, 2002. "Financial Collapse: A Lesson from the Great Depression," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 159-190, December.
  13. Gaetano Antinolfi & Elisabeth Huybens & Todd Keister, 2000. "Monetary Stability and Liquidity Crises: The Role of the Lender of Last Resort," Working Papers 0001, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  14. Freeman, Scott, 1996. "The Payments System, Liquidity, and Rediscounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1126-38, December.
  15. Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 1998. "A model of bimetallism," Working Paper Series WP-98-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  16. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1976. "Optimal Financial Crises," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 97-01, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  17. Freeman, Scott, 1999. "Rediscounting under aggregate risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 197-216, February.
  18. Charles Goodhart, 1999. "Myths About the Lender of Last Resort," FMG Special Papers sp120, Financial Markets Group.
  19. Stanley Fischer, 1999. "On the Need for an International Lender of Last Resort," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 85-104, Fall.
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