The near collapse of the financial system that set off the global crisis was due in part to financial institutions suddenly lacking access to funding markets, and liquidity drying-up across securities markets. Financial institutions did not factor in how their own responses to a liquidity shortfall could make the entire system shut down. But, it only takes a few institutions to pull the plug on a liquidity-filled bathtub before it runs dry, and the central bank needs to open the spigots again. The key then is to make sure that firms have less incentive to pull the plug. To do that, in the latest Global Financial Stability Report, we have come up with a way to measure how much an individual financial institution contributes to system-wide liquidity risk.
The breakdown of the short-term funding markets was one of the most striking features of the global financial crisis. Equally astonishing, and unexpected, was the central role that U.S. money market mutual funds played in contributing to this wholesale shut-down. For the October 2010 Global Financial Stability Report Jeanne Gobat and IMF colleagues examined the issue of systemic liquidity risk, including the role of money market mutual funds in the financial crisis and some concrete recommendations on how to fix it. Here, Jeanne reflects on their findings and shares some options for addressing industry risk.