Public Liquidity and Intermediated Liquidity

61 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2017 Last revised: 28 Nov 2022

See all articles by Ye Li

Ye Li

University of Washington - Foster School of Business

Date Written: July 21, 2022


Under financial constraints, firms hold liquid assets in anticipation of investment needs. Financial intermediaries supply liquid securities in the form their short-term debts. Endogenous liquidity creation stimulates investment and economic growth but generates intermediary leverage cycle that destabilizes the economy. Introducing government debt as an alternative source of liquidity is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, firms hold more liquidity in every state of the economy. On the other hand, by crowding out intermediaries' profits from liquidity provision, government debt induces intermediaries to reach for yield via procyclical risk-taking. As a result, the stationary (long-run) probability distribution tilts towards crisis states where intermediaries are undercapitalized and supply less liquidity. The latter force dominates, when public liquidity cannot satiate firms' liquidity demand and intermediaries are still the marginal liquidity suppliers. Contrary to the literature, this paper demonstrates an overall negative impact of public liquidity on both long-run growth and financial stability.

Keywords: Procyclicality, government debt, liquidity, leverage cycle, reaching for yield, financial instability, slow recovery

JEL Classification: E02, E22, E32, E41, E43, E44, E51, E58, E61, E62, G01, G12, G18, G20, G30

Suggested Citation

Li, Ye, Public Liquidity and Intermediated Liquidity (July 21, 2022). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 17-106, Fisher College of Business Working Paper No. 2017-03-24, Charles A. Dice Center Working Paper No. 2017-24, Available at SSRN: or

Ye Li (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Foster School of Business ( email )

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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