NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Illiquid Banks, Financial Stability, and Interest Rate Policy

Douglas W. Diamond, Raghuram Rajan

NBER Working Paper No. 16994
Issued in April 2011
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ME

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.

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Published: Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2012. "Illiquid Banks, Financial Stability, and Interest Rate Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(3), pages 552 - 591.

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