In Search of a Risk-Free Asset
51 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 19, 2014
To attract retail time deposits, over 7,000 FDIC insured U.S. commercial banks publicly post their yield offers. I document an economically sizable and highly pro-cyclical cross-sectional dispersion in these yield offers during the period 1997-2011. Banks adjusted their yields rigidly and asymmetrically with median duration of 7 weeks in response to increasing or constant Fed Funds rate target regimes and 3 weeks during regimes of decreasing Fed Fund rate target. I investigate to what extent information (search) costs on the part of the investors in this market can explain the observed pricing behavior. I build and estimate an asset pricing model with heterogeneous search cost investors. A large fraction of high information cost uninformed investors and the exit of low information cost informed investors rationalizes the observed price dispersion. I further qualitatively match the asymmetric yield rigidity within the framework of costly consumer search without the need to impose menu costs or other restrictions on the banks' repricing behavior.
Keywords: Consumer search, Deposit rates, Interest rate pass-through, Price rigidity
JEL Classification: D83, D91, G12, G21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation