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Lender of Last Resort


A lender of last resort is typically a country’s central bank or a international financial institution that offers loans to banks or other eligible institutions facing financial difficulty and are unable to secure funding from other sources. This is often done to prevent financial crises from spreading throughout the economy. The terms and conditions for this type of lending are usually very strict and it’s generally seen as a measure of last resort.


The phonetics of “Lender of Last Resort” would be: ˈlɛndər ʌv læst rɪˈzɔrt

Key Takeaways

  1. The Lender of Last Resort refers to an institution, typically a central bank, which offers loans to banks or other qualified institutions during financial crises when these institutions can’t secure loans from other sources. This becomes critical in averting potential financial instability in an economy.
  2. As the Lender of Last Resort, a central bank’s role involves acting to protect the economy from a liquidity shortfall which could potentially cause instability in the financial system. Central banks have the ability to create new money to supply the financial institutions, which private banks don’t have.
  3. While being a safety net during financial distress, the concept of Lender of Last Resort can often be criticized due to the concept of moral hazard. Financial institutions might engage in riskier behavior in reliance on central banks bailing them out if things go wrong. Therefore, the operations of the Lender of Last Resort need to be carefully managed and controlled.


The term “Lender of Last Resort” is crucial in business and finance because it refers to a body, often a central bank like the Federal Reserve in the United States, that offers financial support to institutions facing financial difficulty when no other source of help is available. This role is crucial to maintaining financial stability, especially during crises or periods of severe economic stress. As the “Lender of Last Resort” , these institutions aid in preventing potential bankruptcies and collapses, which might otherwise trigger financial disruption or even widespread economic crises. Hence, the function ensures confidence in the financial system and significantly contributes to economies’ overall health.


The Lender of Last Resort (LoLR) plays a crucial role in financial stability, particularly during periods of crisis or instability. Its main purpose is to provide liquidity to financial institutions, when they are unable to obtain it from other sources, to prevent their insolvency and the potential consequences this could have on the broader economy. The lender of last resort is typically a central bank or international financial institution, such as the International Monetary Fund, and it uses their ability to create new money to lend to institutions facing short-term liquidity crises. The mechanism of a lender of last resort is essential to ensure continuity in financial markets and prevent systemic risks that could arise from the failure of one or more significant players. By guaranteeing a source of funds even in dire situations, the LoLR helps to maintain confidence among market participants, which is critical to the resolve of situations of financial stress. It’s used also as a tool to protect the economy and prevent financial panics from spreading across the banking system, which could result in bank runs or widespread defaults. It’s important to note that the LoLR facility is generally not meant to save institutions that are facing insolvency due to poor business practices or decisions; rather, it is there to provide stability in times of market-wide liquidity crises.


1. The Federal Reserve System: The Federal Reserve serves as the lender of last resort in the U.S. Example could be during the financial crisis of 2008, when many banks were on the brink of failure, the Federal Reserve stepped in to provide liquidity to banks and other financial institutions. The banks could borrow money from the Fed to meet their short-term liabilities and stay solvent. 2. The International Monetary Fund (IMF): The IMF acts as a lender of last resort to countries. For instance, during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, when countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea faced severe economic crises, the IMF provided them with loans to help stabilize their alarming financial situation and prevent a broader economic collapse. 3. The European Central Bank (ECB): The ECB served as a lender of last resort during the European debt crisis that started in 2009. When Greece faced potential bankruptcy, threatening the stability of the entire European Union’s economy, the ECB, together with the IMF and the European Commission, provided bailout packages to ensure the country’s financial stability.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Lender of Last Resort?
A Lender of Last Resort (LOLR) is an institution, usually a country’s central bank, which offers loans to banks or other eligible institutions that are experiencing financial difficulty or are considered highly risky or near collapse.
Why is the Lender of Last Resort important?
The Lender of Last Resort plays a crucial role in preventing a country’s banking system from failing. If a bank is unable to meet its obligations, this can result in a run on the bank where depositors withdraw their money, potentially leading to collapse. The LOLR can step in to provide liquidity and prevent this scenario.
When does the Lender of Last Resort step in?
The Lender of Last Resort steps in when a financial institution is unable to raise funds from regular financial markets, typically during a period of financial crisis or instability, and is in danger of failing.
How does the Lender of Last Resort provide assistance?
The Lender of Last Resort provides assistance by offering loans and ensuring that the institutions have sufficient liquidity to meet their obligations. These loans are often provided on a short-term basis and usually carry a higher interest rate.
What’s the risk for a Lender of Last Resort in providing financial assistance?
An inherent risk for Lenders of Last Resort is the creation of moral hazard. If a financial institution knows it can rely on the LOLR for support, it may take on excessive risk, recklessly believing it has a safety net. To prevent this, conditions are usually attached to LOLR assistance.
Can you give an example of a Lender of Last Resort?
In the United States, the Federal Reserve acts as the Lender of Last Resort. It has the ability to lend money to banks and other financial institutions in dire straits to help them meet their short-term obligations and prevent insolvency.
Does the Lender of Last Resort only help financial institutions?
Primarily, yes – the main role of the Lender of Last Resort is to ensure the stability of the financial and banking system. However, the overall aim is to maintain economic stability, which indirectly benefits businesses and individuals.
Are there global Lenders of Last Resort?
There isn’t a global Lender of Last Resort per se, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) can fulfill a similar function on an international level, providing loans and financial support to countries in financial distress.

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