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The impact of banks’ liquidity reserves on lending


The paper examines the impact from liquidity reserves on banks’ lending. Analysing a large sample of US banks, we discover that the lending of our firms is lower when they hoard liquidity in the form of cash, inter-bank deposits, or through transactions on federal funds. Further results reveal that the effect is stronger after the last quarter of 2008, namely after that the Federal Reserve started to pay interests on banks’ reserves. The paper contributes to the discussion around the implications on the credit to the real economy from central banks’ interventions of monetary policy and in particular from the discipline of reserves.

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  1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2016, Reserve Requirements, Available at

  2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2008, “Board announces that it will begin to pay interest on depository institutions’ required and excess reserve balances,” Press release, October 6. Available at

  3. According to the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006, Congress authorized the Fed to pay interest on reserves effective 1 October 2011, but its implementation moved up to 1 October 2008, as part of the Fed’s response to the financial crisis.

  4. See

  5. See the “Instructions for Preparation of Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income” from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council's (FFIEC) at

  6. See the definition in the forms 10-K and 10-Q filled to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission—SEC (

  7. In Eq. (1), we use the figure for gross loans, which includes loan-loss reserves. We checked that the quality of the empirical results does not change when we employ the item for net loans, where loans are net of loan-loss reserves.

  8. Mankiw [5] mentions the proposal made by the German economist Silvio Gesell in the late nineteenth century, to tax the holding money in order to encourage lending.


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Correspondence to Silvia Bressan.



Variable name Description
Cash (000$) Cash and cash equivalents
Deposits at banks (000$) Interest-bearing deposits at other financial institutions
Fed funds (000$) Overnight deposits at a Federal Reserve bank and securities purchased under agreements to resell
Loans (000$) Loans and finance leases held for investment or held for sale, net of unearned discount, and gross of loss reserves. Does not include accrued interest on loans
Assets (000$) Total assets
Size Natural logarithm of total assets
ROA (%) Return on average assets; net income as a percentage of average assets
Equity (000$) Total equity
Risk-weighted capital ratio (%) Sum of Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital over risk-weighted assets
Fed funds rate Fed funds rate at the end of the specified period
Low capital Dummy variable taking value one if the company’s equity/assets is less than the median equity/assets (equal to 10.02%)
Low reg capital Dummy variable taking value one if the company’s risk-weighted capital ratio is less than the median risk-weighted capital ratio (equal to 14.93%)
2008q4 Dummy variable taking value one if the data is observed during 2008q4
Post2008q4 Dummy variable taking value one if the data is observed during 2008q4–2016q2

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Bressan, S. The impact of banks’ liquidity reserves on lending. J Bank Regul 19, 337–345 (2018).

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  • Banks
  • Reserves
  • Lending

JEL Classification

  • G21
  • G28