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Maintaining Central-Bank Financial Stability under New-Style Central Banking

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  • Robert E. Hall

    (Hoover Institution)

  • Ricardo Reis

Abstract

Since 2008, the central banks of advanced countries have borrowed trillions of dollars from their commercial banks in the form of interest-paying reserves and invested the proceeds in portfolios of risky assets. We investigate how this new style of central banking affects central banks’ solvency. A central bank is insolvent if its requirement to pay dividends to its government exceeds its income by enough to cause an unending upward drift in its debts to commercial banks. We consider three sources of risk to central banks: interest-rate risk (the Federal Reserve), default risk (the European Central Bank), and exchange-rate risk (central banks of small open economies). We find that a central bank that pays dividends equal to a standard concept of net income will always be solvent—its reserve obligations will not explode. In some circumstances, the dividend will be negative, meaning that the government is making a payment to the bank. If the charter does not provide for payments in that direction, then reserves will tend to grow more in crises than they shrink in normal times. To prevent this buildup, the charter needs to provide for makeup reductions in payments from the bank to the government. We compute measures of the financial strength of central banks, and discuss how different institutions interact with quantitative easing policies to put these banks in less or more danger of instability. We conclude that the risks to financial stability are real in theory, but remote in practice today.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Hall & Ricardo Reis, 2015. "Maintaining Central-Bank Financial Stability under New-Style Central Banking," Economics Working Papers 15109, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hoo:wpaper:15109
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cukierman, Alex, 2008. "Central bank independence and monetary policymaking institutions -- Past, present and future," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 722-736, December.
    2. Gauti Eggertsson & Bulat Gafarov & Saroj Bhatarai, 2014. "Time Consistency and the Duration of Government Debt: A Signalling Theory of Quantitative Easing," 2014 Meeting Papers 1292, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2017. "Necessity as the mother of invention: monetary policy after the crisis," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(92), pages 707-755.
    2. de Haan, J. & Eijffinger, Sylvester, 2016. "The Politics of Central Bank Independence," Discussion Paper 2016-047, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Ricardo Reis, 2018. "Central Banks Going Long," Discussion Papers 1810, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
    4. van Riet, Ad, 2017. "Monetary Policy Stretched to the Limit: How Could Governments Support the European Central Bank?," MPRA Paper 83451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Kevin B. Proulx, 2016. "Bernanke’s No-Arbitrage Argument Revisited: Can Open Market Operations in Real Assets Eliminate the Liquidity Trap?," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Elías Albagli & Diego Saravia & Michael Woodford (ed.), Monetary Policy through Asset Markets: Lessons from Unconventional Measures and Implications for an Integrated World, edition 1, volume 24, chapter 3, pages 063-104 Central Bank of Chile.
    6. Igor Goncharov & Vasso Ioannidou & Martin C. Schmalz, 2017. "(Why) Do Central Banks Care About Their Profits?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6546, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Marcella Lucchetta & Michele Moretto & Bruno Maria Parigi, 2018. "Systematic Risk, Bank Moral Hazard, and Bailouts," CESifo Working Paper Series 6878, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Corsetti, G. & Dedola, L. & Jarocinsk, M. & Mackowiak, B., 2016. "Macroeconomic Stabilization, Monetary-fiscal Interactions, and Europe’s monetary Union," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1675, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    9. Foerster, Andrew T., 2015. "Financial crises, unconventional monetary policy exit strategies, and agents׳ expectations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 191-207.
    10. Giancarlo Corsetti & Luca Dedola, 2016. "The Mystery Of The Printing Press: Monetary Policy And Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(6), pages 1329-1371, December.
    11. Amador, Manuel & Bianchi, Javier & Bocola, Luigi & Perri, Fabrizio, 2016. "Reverse speculative attacks," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 125-137.
    12. repec:eee:jimfin:v:78:y:2017:i:c:p:21-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Peter Spahn, 2016. "Central Bank Design in a Non-optimal Currency Union A Lender of Last Resort for Government Debt?," ROME Working Papers 201610, ROME Network.
    14. Hampl, Mojmir & Havranek, Tomas, 2018. "Central Bank Capital as an Instrument of Monetary Policy," EconStor Preprints 176828, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    15. repec:kap:empiri:v:45:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10663-017-9376-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Reis, Ricardo, 2015. "Comment on: “when does a central bank’s balance sheet require fiscal support?” by Marco Del Negro and Christopher A. Sims," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65867, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. van Holle, Frederiek, 2017. "Essays in empirical finance and monetary policy," Other publications TiSEM 30d11a4b-7bc9-4c81-ad24-5, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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