Managing Markets for Toxic Assets

Christopher L. House and Yusufcan Masatlioglu , Journal of Monetary Economics 70 , 84–99 , March 2015.

A model in which banks trade toxic assets to raise funds for investment is analyzed. Toxic assets generate an adverse selection problem and, consequently, the interbank asset market provides insufficient liquidity. Investment is inefficiently low because acquiring funding requires banks to sell high-quality assets for less than their “fair” value. Equity injections reduce liquidity and may be counterproductive as a policy for increasing investment. Paradoxically, if it is directed to firms with the greatest liquidity needs, an equity injection will reduce investment further. Asset purchase programs, like the Public–Private Investment Program, often have favorable impacts on liquidity, investment and welfare.

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