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Third Quarter 2019, 
Vol. 101, No. 3
Posted 2019-07-12

How Have Banks Been Managing the Composition of High-Quality Liquid Assets?

by Jane Ihrig, Edward Kim, Cindy M. Vojtech, and Gretchen C. Weinbach

Banks’ liquidity management practices are fundamental to understanding the implementation and transmission of monetary policy. Since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09, these practices have been shaped importantly by the liquidity coverage ratio requirement. Given the lack of public data on how banks have been meeting this requirement, we construct estimates of U.S. banks’ high-quality liquid assets (HQLA) and examine how banks have managed these assets since the crisis. We find that banks have adopted a wide range of HQLA compositions and show that this empirical finding is consistent with a risk-return framework that hinges on banks’ aversion to liquidity and interest rate risks. We discuss how various regulations and business model choices can drive HQLA compositions in general, and connect many of the specific compositions we see to banks’ own public statements regarding their liquidity strategies. Finally, we highlight how banks’ preferences for the share of HQLA met with reserves affect the Fed’s monetary policy implementation framework.

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