Kjell G. Nyborg, 24 January 2017

Central banks inject money into the economy against collateral, but we know little about the terms of the exchange. This column argues that market forces or discipline have little role to play in the central bank collateral frameworks that are the foundation of the monetary and financial system. This distorts the financial system and wider economy – in the Eurozone, for example, political influence on these frameworks has created indirect bailouts of some banks and sovereigns.

Clemens Jobst, Stefano Ugolini, 23 June 2015

Central banks today provide liquidity exclusively through purchases of (mostly) government bonds and through collateralised open-market operations. This column considers the evolution of liquidity provision by central banks over the past two centuries, and argues that there are alternative approaches to those that are focused on today. One such alternative is a revival of the 19th century practice of uncollateralised lending. This would discourage market participants from relying on informational shortcuts, and reduce the likelihood that informational shocks trigger collateral crises.

Costas Azariadis, Leo Kaas, Yi Wen, 04 April 2015

A large literature in macroeconomics shows how credit market shocks can propagate through deterioration in the value of collateral. This column decomposes debt into secured and unsecured components and investigates their effects separately. While secured debt is acyclical, unsecured debt is confirmed to predict GDP movements in accordance with the standard financial accelerator mechanism.

Alan Moreira, Alexi Savov, 16 September 2014

The prevailing view of shadow banking is that it is all about regulatory arbitrage – evading capital requirements and exploiting ‘too big to fail’. This column focuses instead on the tradeoff between economic growth and financial stability. Shadow banking transforms risky, illiquid assets into securities that are – in good times, at least – treated like money. This alleviates the shortage of safe assets, thereby stimulating growth. However, this process builds up fragility, and can exacerbate the depth of the bust when the liquidity of shadow banking securities evaporates.

Alberto Martin, Jaume Ventura, 05 July 2014

There is a widespread view among macroeconomists that fluctuations in collateral are an important driver of credit booms and busts. This column distinguishes between ‘fundamental’ collateral – backed by expectations of future profits – and ‘bubbly’ collateral – backed by expectations of future credit. Markets are generically unable to provide the optimal amount of bubbly collateral, which creates a natural role for stabilisation policies. A lender of last resort with the ability to tax and subsidise credit can design a ‘leaning against the wind’ policy that replicates the ‘optimal’ bubble allocation.

Olivier Jeanne, Patrick Bolton, 25 April 2011

The Eurozone crisis has thrown into relief the dangers of financial contagion. The authors of CEPR DP8358 analyze the causes and consequences of sovereign debt crises in zones with financial integration. They conclude that without fiscal integration, the supply of government debt in these areas reaches an inefficient equilibrium, with safer governments inefficiently issuing too little of their high-quality debt and riskier governments issuing too much.


CEPR Policy Research