Intermediary Capital Constraints and Market Power

Milena Wittwer, Jason Allen - Jul 18, 2023

Working Paper No.  00110-00

We examine how intermediary capitalization affects  asset prices in a framework that allows for intermediary market power.  We introduce a model in which capital constrained intermediaries buy or trade an asset in an imperfectly competitive market, and show that weaker capital constraints lead to both higher prices and  intermediary markups. In exchange markets, this results in reduced market liquidity, while in primary markets, it leads to higher auction revenues at an implicit cost of larger price distortion.  Using data from Canadian Treasury auctions, we demonstrate how our framework can quantify these effects by linking asset demand to individual intermediaries' balance sheet information.

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