DP11737 Economic Crises and the Eligibility for the Lender of Last Resort: Evidence from Nineteenth Century France
This paper shows that a central bank can more efficiently mitigate economic crises when it broadens eligibility for its discount facility to any safe asset or solvent agent. We use difference-in-differences panel regressions and emulate crises by studying how defaults of banks and non-agricultural firms were affected by the arrival of an agricultural disease. We exploit the specificities of the implementation of the discount window to deal with the endogeneity of the access to the central bank to the arrival of the crisis and local default rates. We find that broad eligibility reduced significantly the increase in the default rate when the shock hit the local economy. A counterfactual exercise shows that defaults would have been 10% to 15% higher if the central bank would have implemented the strictest eligibility rule. This effect is identified independently of changes in policy interest rates and the fiscal deficit.