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Limits to Arbitrage during the Crisis: Finding Liquidity Constraints and Covered Interest Parity


  • Mancini Griffoli, Tommaso


  • Ranaldo, Angelo



Arbitrage ensures that covered interest parity holds. The condition is central to price foreign exchange forwards and interbank lending rates, and reflects the efficient functioning of markets. Normally, deviations from arbitrage, if any, last seconds and reach a few basis points. But after the Lehman bankruptcy, arbitrage broke down. By replicating exactly two major arbitrage strategies and using high frequency prices from novel datasets, this paper shows that arbitrage profits were large, persisted for months and involved borrowing in dollars. Empirical analysis suggests that insufficient funding liquidity in dollars kept traders from arbitraging away excess profits.

Suggested Citation

  • Mancini Griffoli, Tommaso & Ranaldo, Angelo, 2012. "Limits to Arbitrage during the Crisis: Finding Liquidity Constraints and Covered Interest Parity," Working Papers on Finance 1212, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:sfwpfi:2012:12

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    Cited by:

    1. Chu, Shiou-Yen, 2015. "Funding liquidity constraints and the forward premium anomaly in a DSGE model," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 76-89.
    2. Shin-ichi Fukuda & Mariko Tanaka, 2016. "Monetary Policy and Covered Interest Parity in the Post GFC Period: Evidence from Australian Dollar and the NZ Dollar," CARF F-Series CARF-F-401, Center for Advanced Research in Finance, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo.
    3. Shin-ichi Fukuda, 2016. "Regional Liquidity Risk and Covered Interest Parity during the Global Financial Crisis: Evidence from Tokyo, London, and New York ," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1017, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    4. Fatum, Rasmus & Yamamoto, Yohei, 2016. "Intra-safe haven currency behavior during the global financial crisis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 49-64.
    5. Perry Mehrling, 2015. "Elasticity and Discipline in the Global Swap Network," Working Papers Series 27, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
    6. Alexius, Annika & Birenstam, Helene & Eklund, Johanna, 2014. "The interbank market risk premium, central bank interventions, and measures of market liquidity," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(PA), pages 202-217.
    7. Fukuda, Shin-ichi, 2012. "Market-specific and currency-specific risk during the global financial crisis: Evidence from the interbank markets in Tokyo and London," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 3185-3196.
    8. Fukuda, Shin-ichi, 2016. "Strong sterling pound and weak European currencies in the crises: Evidence from covered interest parity of secured rates," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 109-122.
    9. Victoria Ivashina & David S. Scharfstein & Jeremy C. Stein, 2012. "Dollar Funding and the Lending Behavior of Global Banks," NBER Working Papers 18528, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Kotaro Ishi & Kenji Fujita & Mark R. Stone, 2011. "Should Unconventional Balance Sheet Policies Be Added to the Central Bank toolkit? a Review of the Experience so Far," IMF Working Papers 11/145, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Shin-ichi Fukuda, 2015. "Strong Sterling Pound and Weak European Currencies in the Crises: Evidence from Covered Interest Parity of Secured Rates," NBER Chapters,in: International Finance in the Global Markets National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Moinas, Sophie & Nguyen, Minh & Valente, Giorgio, 2017. "Funding Constraints and Market Illiquidity in the European Treasury Bond Market," TSE Working Papers 17-814, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    13. Matthew S. Yiu & Joseph K. W. Fung & Lu Jin & Wai-Yip Alex Ho, 2010. "Liquidity Crunch in Late 2008: High-Frequency Differentials between Forward-Implied Funding Costs and Money Market Rates," Working Papers 262010, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    14. repec:eee:jimfin:v:74:y:2017:i:c:p:301-317 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Shin-ichi Fukuda & Mariko Tanaka, 2016. "Monetary Policy and Covered Interest Parity in the Post GFC Period: Evidence from the Australian Dollar and the NZ Dollar," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1032, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    16. Tiago Severo, 2012. "Measuring Systemic Liquidity Risk and the Cost of Liquidity Insurance," IMF Working Papers 12/194, International Monetary Fund.
    17. James Pinnington & Maral Shamloo, 2016. "Limits to Arbitrage and Deviations from Covered Interest Rate Parity," Discussion Papers 16-4, Bank of Canada.
    18. Yi Wang, 2010. "Convertibility Restriction Determination in China's Foreign Exchange Market and its Impact of Forward Pricing," Discussion Papers 09-024, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

    More about this item


    limits to arbitrage; covered interest parity; funding liquidity; financial crisis; slow moving capital; market freeze; unconventional monetary policy.;

    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading


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