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The First Line Of Defense: The Discount Window During The Early Stages Of The Financial Crisis

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Executive Summary

This paper develops a theoretical model of trading in the federal funds market that captures characteristics of discount window borrowing and the federal funds market during the first year of the financial crisis, including the narrowing of the spread between the discount rate and the target rate; the increased incidence of high-rate trading; and the decline in participation in the federal funds market. The model shows that differences in stigma of borrowing from the discount window across banks can cause the federal funds rate to rise, even when the spread between the discount rate and the target rate narrows.

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