IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Coordination Failures and the Lender of Last Resort: Was Bagehot Right After All?

  • Jean-Charles Rochet


  • Xavier Vives

The classical doctrine of the Lender of Last Resort, elaborated by Thornton (1802) and Bagehot (1873), asserts that the Central Bank should lend to “illiquid but solvent” banks under certain conditions. Several authors have argued that this view is now obsolete: when inter-bank markets are efficient, a solvent bank cannot be illiquid. This paper provides a possible theoretical foundation for rescuing Bagehot’s view. Our theory does not rely on the multiplicity of equilibria that arises in classical models of bank runs. We build a model of banks’ liquidity crises that possesses a unique Bayesian equilibrium. In this equilibrium, there is a positive probability that a solvent bank cannot find liquidity assistance in the market. We derive policy implications about banking regulation (solvency and liquidity ratios) and interventions of the Lender of Last Resort as well as on the disclosure policy of the Central Bank.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Financial Markets Group in its series FMG Discussion Papers with number dp408.

in new window

Date of creation: Feb 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fmg:fmgdps:dp408
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Joe Peek & Eric S. Rosengren & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell, 1999. "Is Bank Supervision Central To Central Banking?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 629-653, May.
  2. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1991. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 3906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
  4. Chari, V V & Jagannathan, Ravi, 1988. " Banking Panics, Information, and Rational Expectations Equilibrium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 749-61, July.
  5. Van Zandt, Timothy & Vives, Xavier, 2003. "Monotone Equilibria in Bayesian Games of Strategic Complementarities," CEPR Discussion Papers 4103, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Vives, Xavier, 2004. "Coordination Failures and the Lender of Last Resort : Was Bagehot Right After All?," IDEI Working Papers 294, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  7. Heinemann, Frank & Illing, Gerhard, 2002. "Speculative attacks: unique equilibrium and transparency," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 429-450, December.
  8. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1998. "Liquidity risk, liquidity creation and financial fragility: a theory of banking," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Sep.
  9. Shin, Hyun Song & Morris, Stephen, 2000. "Welfare effects of public information," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2000,07, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  10. Jeanne, Olivier & Wyplosz, Charles, 2001. "The International Lender of Last Resort: How Large is Large Enough?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2842, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  12. Holmström, Bengt & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds and the Real Sector," IDEI Working Papers 40, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  13. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
  14. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-76, June.
  15. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2000. "Rethinking Multiple Equilibria in Macroeconomic Modelling," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1260, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  16. Gorton, Gary, 1985. "Bank suspension of convertibility," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 177-193, March.
  17. Carlsson, Hans & van Damme, Eric, 1993. "Global Games and Equilibrium Selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 989-1018, September.
  18. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1998. "Optimal Financial Crises," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1245-1284, 08.
  19. Gale, Douglas M & Vives, Xavier, 2001. "Dollarization, Bailouts and the Stability of the Banking System," CEPR Discussion Papers 2901, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Haizhou Huang & C. A. E. Goodhart, 2000. "A Simple Model of An International Lender of Last Resort," IMF Working Papers 00/75, International Monetary Fund.
  21. Tarkka, Juha & Mayes, David, 1999. "The Value of Publishing Official Central Bank Forecasts," Research Discussion Papers 22/1999, Bank of Finland.
  22. Allen N. Berger & Sally M. Davies & Mark J. Flannery, 1998. "Comparing market and supervisory assessments of bank performance: who knows what when?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-32, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 1988. "Financial deregulation, monetary policy, and central banking," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue May, pages 3-22.
  24. Anna J. Schwartz, 1992. "The misuse of the Fed's discount window," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 58-69.
  25. Charles A. E. Goodhart & Haizhou Huang, 1999. "A model of the lender of last resort," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  26. Xavier Vives, 2001. "Oligopoly Pricing: Old Ideas and New Tools," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026272040x, June.
  27. Mark J. Flannery, 1996. "Financial crises, payment system problems, and discount window lending," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 804-831.
  28. Aleh Tsyvinski & Christian Hellwig & Arihit Mukherji, 2004. "Coordination Failures and Asset Prices," 2004 Meeting Papers 72, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  29. Elena Carletti, 1999. "Bank Moral Hazard and Market Discipline," FMG Discussion Papers dp326, Financial Markets Group.
  30. Sanford Grossman & Oliver Hart, . "Corporate Financial Structure and Managerial Incentives," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 21-79, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  31. Vives, Xavier, 1990. "Nash equilibrium with strategic complementarities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 305-321.
  32. Robert DeYoung & Mark J. Flannery & William W. Lang & Sorin M. Sorescu, 1998. "The informational advantage of specialized monitors: the case of bank examiners," Working Paper Series WP-98-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  33. Bryant, John, 1980. "A model of reserves, bank runs, and deposit insurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-344, December.
  34. 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.
  35. Jacklin, Charles J & Bhattacharya, Sudipto, 1988. "Distinguishing Panics and Information-Based Bank Runs: Welfare and Policy Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 568-92, June.
  36. V.V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Asking the right questions about the IMF," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, pages 3-26.
  37. Calomiris, Charles W & Kahn, Charles M, 1991. "The Role of Demandable Debt in Structuring Optimal Banking Arrangements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 497-513, June.
  38. Gorton, Gary, 1988. "Banking Panics and Business Cycles," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(4), pages 751-81, December.
  39. Padoa-Schioppa, Tommaso, 1999. "EMU and Banking Supervision," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(2), pages 295-308, July.
  40. Steven Radelet & Jeffrey Sachs, 1998. "The Onset of the East Asian Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 6680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  41. Postlewaite, Andrew & Vives, Xavier, 1987. "Bank Runs as an Equilibrium Phenomenon," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 485-91, June.
  42. Xavier Vives, 2001. "Restructuring Financial Regulation in the European Monetary Union," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 57-82, February.
  43. Michael D. Bordo, 1990. "The lender of last resort : alternative views and historical experience," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Jan, pages 18-29.
  44. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1988. "Banking panics, information, and rational expectations equilibrium," Working Papers 320, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  45. V.V. Chari & Ravi Jagannathan, 1984. "Banking Panics," Discussion Papers 618, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Xavier Vives in Wikipedia Catalan ne '')
  2. Xavier Vives in Wikipedia Spanish ne '')

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fmg:fmgdps:dp408. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (The FMG Administration)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.