We use minute-by-minute daily transaction-level payments data to document the cross-sectional and time-series behavior of the estimated prices and quantities negotiated by commercial banks in the fed funds market. We study the frequency and volume of trade, the size distribution of loans, the distribution of bilateral fed funds rates, and the intraday dynamics of the reserve balances held by commercial banks. We find evidence of the importance of the liquidity provision achieved by commercial banks that act as de facto intermediaries of fed funds.
This paper examines two different clearing arrangements for bank liabilities. One was a profit-maximizing private entity, the Suffolk Banking System. It cleared notes for New England banks between 1827 and 1858. The other was a nonprofit collective, the clearinghouses organized in many cities beginning in 1853. The paper examines how well these arrangements prevented bank failures and acted as lenders of last resort. It finds the Suffolk system had fewer failures but acted less like a lender of last resort. It argues that these differences can be explained by the different incentives facing the Suffolk Bank and the members of clearinghouses.
Why do some sellers set nominal prices that apparently do not respond to changes in the aggregate price level? In many models, prices are sticky by assumption; here it is a result. We use search theory, with two consequences: prices are set in dollars, since money is the medium of exchange; and equilibrium implies a nondegenerate price distribution. When the money supply increases, some sellers may keep prices constant, earning less per unit but making it up on volume, so profit stays constant. The calibrated model matches price-change data well. But, in contrast with other sticky-price models, money is neutral.
Prior to 1861, several U.S. states established bank liability insurance schemes. One type was an insurance fund. Member banks paid into a state-run fund that paid bank creditors’ losses. A second scheme was a mutual guarantee system. Member banks were legally responsible for the liabilities of any insolvent bank. This paper’s hypothesis is that the moral hazard problem was controlled under a scheme to the degree that member banks had the power and incentive to control or modify others’ risk-taking behavior. Schemes that gave member banks both strong incentives and power were able to control the moral hazard problem better than schemes in which one or both features were weak. Empirical evidence on bank failures and losses on banks’ asset portfolios is consistent with this hypothesis.
The possibility of regime shifts in monetary policy can have important effects on rational agents’ expectation formation and equilibrium dynamics. In a DSGE model where the monetary policy rule switches between a dovish regime that accommodates inflation and a hawkish regime that stabilizes inflation, the expectation effect is asymmetric across regimes. Such an asymmetric effect makes it difficult, but still possible, to generate substantial reductions in the volatilities of inflation and output as the monetary policy switches from the dovish regime to the hawkish regime.
The behavior of interest rates under the U.S. National Banking System is puzzling because of the apparent presence of persistent and large unexploited arbitrage opportunities for note issuing banks. Previous attempts to explain interest rate behavior have relied on the cost or the inelasticity of note issue. These attempts are not entirely satisfactory. Here we propose a new rationale to solve the puzzle. Inelastic note issuance arises endogenously because the marginal cost of issuing notes is an increasing function of circulation. We build a spatial separation model where some fraction of agents must move each period. Banknotes can be carried between locations; deposits cannot. Taking the model to the data on national banks, we find it matches the movements in long-term interest rates well. It also predicts movements in deposit rates during panics. However, the model displays more inelasticity of notes issuance than is in the data.
We show that the desirability of fiscal constraints in monetary unions depends critically on the extent of commitment of the monetary authority. If the monetary authority can commit to its policies, fiscal constraints can only impose costs. If the monetary authority cannot commit, there is a free-rider problem in fiscal policy, and fiscal constraints may be desirable.
In this chapter, we review the monetary and fiscal history of Argentina for the period 1960–2017, a time during which the country suffered several balance of payments crises, three periods of hyperinflation, two defaults on government debt, and three banking crises. All told, between 1969 and 1991, after several monetary reforms, thirteen zeros had been removed from its currency. We argue that all these events are the symptom of a recurrent problem: Argentina’s unsuccessful attempts to tame the fiscal deficit. An implication of our analysis is that the future economic evolution of Argentina depends greatly on its ability to develop institutions that guarantee that the government does not spend more than its genuine tax revenues over reasonable periods of time.
Brazil has had a long period of high inflation. It peaked around 100 percent per year in 1964, decreased until the first oil shock (1973), but accelerated again afterward, reaching levels above 100 percent on average between 1980 and 1994. This last period coincided with severe balance of payments problems and economic stagnation that followed the external debt crisis in the early 1980s. We show that the high-inflation period (1960-1994) was characterized by a combination of fiscal deficits, passive monetary policy, and constraints on debt financing. The transition to the low-inflation period (1995-2016) was characterized by improvements in all of these features, but it did not lead to significant improvements in economic growth. In addition, we document a strong positive correlation between inflation rates and seigniorage revenues, although inflation rates are relatively high for modest levels of seigniorage revenues. Finally, we discuss the role of the weak institutional framework surrounding the fiscal and monetary authorities and the role of monetary passiveness and inflation indexation in accounting for the unique features of inflation dynamics in Brazil.
Until the mid-19th century, shortages of currency were sometimes serious problems. One common response was to prohibit the export of coins. We use a random matching model with indivisible money to explain a shortage and to judge the desirability of a prohibition on the export of coins. The model, although extreme in many regards, represents better than earlier models a demand for outside money and the problems that arise when that money is indivisible. It can also rationalize a prohibition on the export of coins.