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Interbank Market Liquidity and Central Bank Intervention Franklin Allen Elena Carletti University of Pennsylvania University of Frankfurt and CFS Douglas Gale New York University Bank of England 23-24 June, 2008

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2 Introduction Interbank markets are –A very important part of the financial system –Relatively little studied Central banks intervene heavily in these markets Most of the time they function well, but occasionally they appear not to (e.g., the freezes since August 2007) How do such markets work and what are the effects of central bank intervention?

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3 Introduction (cont.) Many banks participate in the interbank markets –Markets are competitive Many transactions involve government securities –Either as asset sales –Or as collateral in repos This suggests that market power and asymmetric information often may not be very important

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4 Our approach Banks are subject to two types of liquidity risk –Idiosyncratic –Aggregate But they have difficulties in hedging these risks, particularly the idiosyncratic risk –Interbank markets are incomplete in this sense Market allocations can be inefficient as a result

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5 Our approach (cont.) Characterize the constrained efficient allocation Demonstrate how (incomplete) interbank markets lead to an inefficient allocation –Excess price and consumption volatility Show that the central bank can implement the constrained efficient allocation by engaging in open market operations and fixing the interest rate

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6 The model Three dates t = 0, 1, 2 A single good that can be used for consumption or investment at each date Banks are competitive, raise deposits paying c 1 = d at t = 1 and c 2 at t = 2, invest in risk free assets and trade on an interbank market Depositors: –Measure is 1 –Each has an initial endowment of 1 –Utility function u(c t ) for t = 1,2

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7 Depositors have consumption shocks with

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8 Banks invest y in a short asset and 1 – y in a long asset t =0 1 2 Short: 1 1 1 Long: 1 R > 1 Interbank market P θ All uncertainty is resolved at t =1 Focus on parameter space where there is no bankruptcy

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9 Constrained efficient allocation A planner chooses d and y to maximize consumers’ expected utility, subject to feasibility constraints Idiosyncratic risk (± η) does not matter

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10 Interbank market allocation Banks solve a similar problem to the planner but interbank market prices P θ now play an important role Banks choose so that there is excess liquidity in state θ = 0 P 0 = R so banks hold both assets from t = 1 to 2 P 1 < 1 so “ “ “ “ “ t = 0 to 1 This leads to inefficient consumption volatilíty across banks because of the interaction of price volatility and idiosyncratic risk

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11 Central bank intervention The central bank implements the constrained efficient allocation by –fixing P θ = 1 –using open market operations There is a lump sum tax X 0 at t = 0 to fund the central bank’s portfolio Central bank uses its portfolio to intervene at t = 1 to inject or drain liquidity

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12 Idiosyncratic risk only (η > 0, ε = 0) Date 0: –CB buys X 0 = 1 – d * of short asset –Banks choose y * – X 0 of short and 1 – y * of long asset Date 1: –CB sets P = 1 by buying X 0 of long asset –Bank i covers liquidity need y * – X 0 – λ i d * by selling long asset

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13 Date 2: Consumption at t = 2 is the same for depositors at all banks so idiosyncratic risk is eliminated Opposite interpretation if d * > 1 –Security replicating short asset granted at t = 0 (“money”) –Security replicating long asset issued at t = 1 –Lump sum tax at t = 2

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14 Aggregate risk only (η = 0, ε > 0) Date 0: Banks choose y * short and 1 – y * long State θ = 1: no CB intervention

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15 Both risks (η > 0, ε > 0) Interventions above can be combined to achieve the constrained efficient allocation Markets “freeze” (banks stop trading with each other) in state θ = 0 if ε > η but this is constrained efficient if the central bank is intervening optimally as above

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16 Complete markets There are a number of ways to implement complete markets (e.g., static versus dynamic) The basic problem is that to allow diversification of idiosyncratic risk each bank needs to issue a small amount of a bank-specific state-contingent security to every other bank

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17 Concluding remarks Central bank intervention allows the market failure arising from incomplete opportunities to hedge liquidity risk to be corrected It does so by fixing interest rates (asset prices) and conducting open market operations We have shown this in the special case of no bankruptcy

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