The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The Outreach & Education function engages, empowers and educates the public in the Second District. Our outreach mission furthers the Bank’s commitment to the region by listening to the communities we serve and developing programs, analysis and sponsored conferences and clinics to help meet their needs. Our education mission aims to advance public knowledge about the Federal Reserve System and its role in the economy.
In the 1980s, central banks around the world joined the Federal Reserve and began implementing real-time gross settlement (RTGS) systems to reduce the risks associated with the growing volume of daily payments among commercial banks.
RTGS systems can reduce settlement risk significantly; however, they require more liquidity to smooth nonsynchronized payment flows. Central banks therefore typically provide intraday credit to commercial banks, either as collateralized credit or priced credit.
Because intraday credit is costly—either implicitly as the opportunity cost of collateral or explicitly as fees—banks look to minimize their use of liquidity by timing the release of payments.
The management of intraday liquidity positions thus has become an increasingly important competitive component of commercial bank operations as well as a policy concern of central banks.
Bech uses a game-theoretical framework to analyze the effect of central bank credit policies on the intraday liquidity management behavior of commercial banks in an RTGS environment.
He observes that the actions taken by commercial banks depend on the intraday credit policy and encompass two well-known paradigms in game theory: “the prisoner’s dilemma” and “the stag hunt”—two useful tools for understanding the fundamental trade-offs faced by RTGS participants.
The prisoner’s dilemma arises in a collateralized credit regime, where commercial banks have an incentive to delay payments if intraday credit is expensive. The stag hunt occurs in a priced credit regime, where the banks seek to coordinate the timing of their payments to avoid overdraft fees.
The author also discusses how several extensions of the framework affect his results, such as settlement risk, incomplete information, heterogeneity, and repeated play.
About the Author
Morten L. Bech is a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The views expressed in this summary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System.