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Managing Markets for Toxic Assets

  • Christopher L. House
  • Yusufcan Masatlioglu

We present a model in which banks trade toxic assets to raise funds for investment. The toxic assets generate an adverse selection problem and, as a consequence, the interbank asset market provides insufficient liquidity to finance investment. While the best investments are fully funded, socially efficient projects with modest payoffs are not. Investment is inefficiently low because acquiring funding requires banks to sell high-quality assets for less than their "fair" value. We then consider whether equity injections and asset purchases can improve market outcomes. Equity injections do not improve liquidity and may be counterproductive as a policy for increasing investment. By allowing banks to fund investments without having to sell high-quality assets, equity injections reduce the number of high-quality assets traded and further contaminate the interbank market. Paradoxically, if equity injections are directed to firms with the greatest liquidity needs, the contamination effect causes investment to fall. In contrast, asset purchase programs, like the Public-Private Investment Program, often have favorable impacts on liquidity, investment and welfare.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16145.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16145
Note: AP EFG ME
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  1. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  2. Bernanke, B. & Gertler, M. & Gilchrist, S., 1998. "The Financial Accelerator in a Quantitative Business Cycle Framework," Working Papers 98-03, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  3. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  4. Philippon, Thomas & Skreta, Vasiliki, 2010. "Optimal Interventions in Markets with Adverse Selection," CEPR Discussion Papers 7737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Stiglitz Joseph, 2008. "We Aren't Done Yet: Comments on the Financial Crisis and Bailout," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 5(5), pages 1-4, September.
  6. Ben Lester & Braz Camargo, 2011. "Trading Dynamics in Decentralized Markets with Adverse Selection," 2011 Meeting Papers 1300, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. de Meza, David & Webb, David C, 1987. "Too Much Investment: A Problem of Asymmetric Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 281-92, May.
  8. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1986. "The Allocation of Credit and Financial Collapse," NBER Working Papers 1786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
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