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How Debt Markets have Malfunctioned in the Crisis

  • Arvind Krishnamurthy
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    This article explains how debt markets have malfunctioned in the crisis, with deleterious consequences for the real economy. I begin with a quick overview of debt markets. I then discuss three areas that are crucial in all debt markets decisions: risk capital and risk aversion, repo financing and haircuts, and counterparty risk. In each of these areas, feedback effects can arise, so that less liquidity and a higher cost for finance can reinforce each other in a contagious spiral. I document the remarkable rise in the premium that investors placed on liquidity during the crisis. Next, I show how these issues caused debt markets to break down: fundamental values and market values seemed to diverge across several markets and products that were far removed from the "toxic" subprime mortgage assets at the root of the crisis. Finally, I discuss briefly four steps that the Federal Reserve took to ease the crisis, and how each was geared to a specific systemic fault that arose during the crisis.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15542.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15542.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2009
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    Publication status: published as Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2010. "How Debt Markets Have Malfunctioned in the Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15542
    Note: AP CF ME
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2008. "Collective Risk Management in a Flight to Quality Episode," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(5), pages 2195-2230, October.
    2. Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2002. "The bond/old-bond spread," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 463-506.
    3. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 12939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:oup:rfinst:v:25:y::i:6:p:1799-1843 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gromb, Denis & Vayanos, Dimitri, 2002. "Equilibrium and welfare in markets with financially constrained arbitrageurs," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 361-407.
    6. Holmstrom, B & Tirole, J, 1996. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Working papers 96-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    7. Dimitri Vayanos & Robin Greenwood, 2008. "Bond Supply and Excess Bond Returns," FMG Discussion Papers dp607, Financial Markets Group.
    8. Nicolae Gârleanu & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2007. "Liquidity and Risk Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 193-197, May.
    9. Gorton, Gary & Metrick, Andrew, 2012. "Securitized banking and the run on repo," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 425-451.
    10. Adriano Rampini & Andrea Eisfeldt, 2005. "Financing Shortfalls and the Value of Aggregate Liquidity," 2005 Meeting Papers 889, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Dimitri Vayanos, 2004. "Flight to quality, flight to liquidity, and the pricing of risk," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 456, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Tobias Adrian & Hyun Song Shin, 2008. "Liquidity and leverage," Staff Reports 328, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    13. 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.
    14. Annette Vissing-Jorgensen & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2008. "The Aggregate Demand for Treasury Debt," 2008 Meeting Papers 713, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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