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Illiquidity and Interest Rate Policy

47 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2009  

Douglas W. Diamond

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Raghuram G. Rajan

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; International Monetary Fund (IMF); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2009

Abstract

The cheapest way for banks to finance long term illiquid projects is typically to borrow short term from households. But when household needs for funds are high, interest rates will rise sharply, debtors will have to shut down illiquid projects, and in extremis, will face more damaging runs. Authorities may want to push down interest rates to maintain economic activity in the face of such illiquidity, but intervention may not always be feasible, and when feasible, could encourage banks to increase leverage or fund even more illiquid projects up front. This could make all parties worse off. Authorities may want to commit to a specific policy of interest rate intervention to restore appropriate incentives. For instance, to offset incentives for banks to make more illiquid loans, authorities may have to commit to raising rates when low, to counter the distortions created by lowering them when high. We draw implications for interest rate policy to combat illiquidity.

Suggested Citation

Diamond, Douglas W. and Rajan, Raghuram G., Illiquidity and Interest Rate Policy (July 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15197. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1442662

Douglas W. Diamond (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/douglas.diamond/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Raghuram G. Rajan

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-4437 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

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Washington, DC 20431
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
773-702-9299 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

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