Private money and banking regulation
We show that a competitive banking system is inconsistent with an optimum quantity of private money. Because bankers cannot commit to their promises and the composition of their assets is not publicly observable, a positive franchise value is required to induce the full convertibility of bank liabilities. Under perfect competition, a positive franchise value can be obtained only if the return on bank liabilities is sufficiently low, which imposes a cost on those who hold these liabilities for transaction purposes. If the banking system is monopolistic, then an efficient allocation is ...
Optimal pricing of payment services when cash is an alternative
Payments are increasingly being made with payment cards rather than currency-this despite the fact that the operational cost of clearing a card payment usually exceeds the cost of transferring cash. In this paper, the authors examine this puzzle through the lens of monetary theory. They consider the design of an optimal card-based payment system when cash is available as an alternative means of payment, and derive conditions under which cards will be preferred to cash. The authors find that a feature akin to the controversial "no-surcharge rule" may be necessary to ensure the viability of ...
Banking: a mechanism design approach
The authors study banking using the tools of mechanism design, without a priori assumptions about what banks are, who they are, or what they do. Given preferences, technologies, and certain frictions - including limited commitment and imperfect monitoring - they describe the set of incentive feasible allocations and interpret the outcomes in terms of institutions that resemble banks. The bankers in the authors' model endogenously accept deposits, and their liabilities help others in making payments. This activity is essential: if it were ruled out the set of feasible allocations would be ...
Let's make it clear: how central counterparties save(d) the day
The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008 will certainly be featured in history books as one of the greatest financial failures so far, but it will also be recorded as yet another episode of the historically successful performance of clearing arrangements in ensuring the resiliency of markets. Recognizing the usefulness of safe and sound clearing and settlement procedures, the Federal Reserve has recently supported the attempt to shift the clearing of some contracts to a central counterparty. In this article, Cyril Monnet outlines the arguments in favor of central counterparty clearing, the ...
Private liquidity and banking regulation
The authors show that the regulation of bank lending practices is necessary for the optimal provision of private liquidity. In an environment in which bankers cannot commit to repay their creditors, the authors show that neither an unregulated banking system nor narrow banking can provide the socially efficient amount of liquidity. If the bankers provided such an amount, then they would prefer to default on their liabilities. The authors show that a regulation that increases the value of the banking sector?s assets (e.g., by limiting competition in bank lending) will mitigate the commitment ...
The emergence and future of central counterparties
The authors explain why central counterparties (CCPs) emerged historically. With standardized contracts, it is optimal to insure counterparty risk by clearing those contracts through a CCP that uses novation and mutualization. As netting is not essential for these services, it does not explain why CCPs exist. In over-the-counter markets, as contracts are customized and not fungible, a CCP cannot fully guarantee contract performance. Still, a CCP can help: As bargaining leads to an inefficient allocation of default risk relative to the gains from customization, a transfer scheme is needed. A ...
Dealers' Insurance, Market Structure, And Liquidity
We develop a parsimonious model to study the equilibrium structure of financial markets and its efficiency properties. We find that regulations aimed at improving market outcomes can cause inefficiencies. The welfare benefit of such regulation stems from endogenously improving market access for some participants, thus boosting competition and lowering prices to the ultimate consumers. Higher competition, however, erodes profits from market activities. This has two effects: it disproportionately hurts more efficient market participants, who earn larger profits, and it reduces the incentives of ...
When should labor contracts be nominal?
This paper proposes a theory of when labor contract should be nominal or, instead, indexed. We find that, contracts should be indexed if prices are difficult to forecast and nominal otherwise. We use a principal-agent model developed by Jovanovic and Ueda (1997), with moral hazard, renegotiation, and where a signal (the nominal value of the sales of the agent) is observed before renegotiation takes place. We show that their result, that the optimal contract is nominal when agents must choose pure strategies, is robust to the case where agents can choose mixed strategies in the sense that, for ...
The poor, the rich and the enforcer: institutional choice and growth
We study economies where improving the quality of institutions ? modeled as improving contract enforcement ? requires resources, but enables trade that raises output by reducing the dispersion of marginal products of capital. We find that in this type of environment it is optimal to combine institutional building with endowment redistribution, and that more ex-ante dispersion in marginal products increases the incentives to invest in enforcement. In addition, we show that institutional investments lead over time to a progressive reduction in inequality. Finally, the framework we describe ...
Comment on Cavalcanti and Nosal's \"Counterfeiting as private money in mechanism design\"
In this comment, the author extends Cavalcanti and Nosal's (2010) framework to include the case of perfectly divisible money and unrestricted money holdings. He shows that when trade takes place in Walrasian markets, counterfeits circulate and the Friedman rule is still optimal.