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European Tribune - The "Euro Crisis" - Both more and less than meets the eye
The Belgian [finance?] minister admitted he's convinced that "it will be difficult for the ECB to go further in keeping its liquidity support for the banks of certain member states, and maybe to begin with in Ireland".

And what exactly prevents the ECB from providing liquidity support? Liquidity is free for the Central Bank of a fiat currency zone.

Willem Buiter's Maverecon: After subverting bank insolvency, our leaders are now about to make a mess of liquidity (October 6, 2009)

Unless there is a major change of direction among global economic and financial officialdom, we are at risk of ending up with a world in which liquidity provision is privatised and insolvency risk for banks is socialised.  This would be the exact opposite of what makes sense: solvency is (or should be) a private good and liquidity is (or should be) a public good.


Unlike solvency, which is or should be a private good that has been provided publicly and socially inefficiently by the state, liquidity, which can be provided or hoarded privately, is a public good that ought not to be provided privately but by the central bank.  In the UK, the FSA has announced measures requiring UK banks to hold significantly more liquidity.  Currently, banks and building societies in the UK hold about £280 bn worth of cash and government bonds from countries deemed to be solvent (yes there are some left, apparently).  The FSA wants this liquidity buffer to be increased by at least one third, and possibly by more.  In addition, reliance on wholesale market funding will have to be cut by at least 20 percent: deposits good, wholesale funding bad.  There is a grace period - so as not to depress bank lending even more, these bigger liquidity buffers will only have to be achieved when the economy recovers.

This is bad economics.  Liquidity is not a thing - not something wufting around in the ether.  Liquidity is a multi-demensional property of assets.  The degree of liquidity of an asset (real or financial) depends on (a) the speed with which it can be sold (b) the transactions costs incurred in a sale (as measured, say, by the bid-ask spread) and (c) the spread between the realised price of the security and its fair or fundamental value.  These three characteristics are of course not independent.

Can we please have Willem Buiter as ECB president? Please?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 18th, 2010 at 04:58:40 AM EST
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