Safe Assets as Commodity Money
Published: November 25, 2015
This paper examines the systemic implications of the supply of liquid safe assets, such as Treasury bills. The paper explores how liquid safe assets facilitate the trades of risky assets. The paper finds that financial markets may be remarkably resilient to changes in the stock of liquid assets. (Working Paper no. 15-23)
This paper presents a model in which safe assets are systemic because they are the medium of exchange for risky assets. Like commodity money, these assets are costly to produce and have some intrinsic value, resulting in (a) non-neutrality and (b) overproduction. Quantitatively, the welfare consequences of these inefficiencies depend on the costs of producing safe assets, which can be inferred from the equilibrium value of the liquidity premium. When the model is calibrated to plausible liquidity premia the resulting inefficiencies are not large.