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Illiquid Banks, Financial Stability, and Interest Rate Policy


  • Douglas W. Diamond
  • Raghuram Rajan


Do low interest rates alleviate banking fragility? Banks finance illiquid assets with demandable deposits, which discipline bankers but expose them to damaging runs. Authorities may choose to bail out banks being run. Unconstrained bailouts undermine the disciplinary role of deposits. Moreover, competition forces banks to promise depositors more, increasing intervention and making the system worse off. By contrast, constrained intervention to lower rates maintains private discipline, while offsetting contractual rigidity. It may still lead banks to make excessive liquidity promises. Anticipating this, central banks can reduce financial fragility by raising rates in normal times to offset their propensity to reduce rates in adverse times.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram Rajan, 2011. "Illiquid Banks, Financial Stability, and Interest Rate Policy," NBER Working Papers 16994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16994
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Freixas & Antoine Martin & David Skeie, 2011. "Bank Liquidity, Interbank Markets, and Monetary Policy," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(8), pages 2656-2692.
    2. Emmanuel Farhi & Jean Tirole, 2012. "Collective Moral Hazard, Maturity Mismatch, and Systemic Bailouts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 60-93, February.
    3. Shin, Hyun Song & Adrian, Tobias, 2008. "Financial intermediaries, financial stability and monetary policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 287-334.
    4. 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.
    5. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1994. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 841-879.
    6. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services

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