The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Periods of banking distress are often followed by sizable and long-lasting contractions in bank credit. They may be explained by a declined demand by financially impaired borrowers (the conventional financial accelerator) or by lower supply by capital-constrained banks, a "credit crunch". This paper develops a bank model to study credit crunches and their real effects. In this model, banks maintain a precautionary level of capital that serves as a smoothing mechanism to avert disruptions in the supply of credit when hit by small shocks. However, for larger shocks, highly persistent credit crunches may arise even when the impulse is a one time, non-serially correlated event. From a policy perspective, the model justifies the use of public funds to recapitalize banks following a significant deterioration in their capital position.