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Liquidity Preference Theory


The Liquidity Preference Theory is a financial concept that suggests people prefer to hold their assets in a liquid form (cash) rather than as an investment because they can immediately consume or utilize that cash if a need arises. According to the theory, the interest rate is determined by the supply and demand for money; the more people desire liquidity, the higher the interest rate. Therefore, it highlights the relationship between the liquidity preference of the people and the prevailing rate of interest.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Liquidity Preference Theory” is: lih-kwid-uh-tee pref-er-uhns thee-uh-ree.

Key Takeaways

  1. Role of Interest Rate: Liquidity Preference Theory states that interest rate is not determined by the supply of money solely, but rather by the demand for money. This theory emphasizes that the public’s demand for money to retain as liquid cash plays a pivotal role in determining the interest rate.
  2. Money Demand: According to this theory, people demand money or prefer liquidity primarily for three motives: transaction motives, precautionary motives, and speculative motives. Transactional motive refers to the need for cash for day-to-day expenses, precautionary motive refers to the need for cash for unforeseen contingencies, and speculative motive refers to holding cash to exploit expected changes in bond prices and interest rates.
  3. Limitations of Monetary Policy: Liquidity Preference Theory implies limitations of monetary policy. It shows that the expansion of money supply will lead to fall in interest rates only if the public expects no fall in bond prices, which in turn depends on the public’s speculations about interest rate movements. Thus, the impact of policy tools may not be as precise in real-world scenarios owing to speculative expectations.


The Liquidity Preference Theory is a significant concept in business and finance because it provides an explanation for the behavior of interest rates based on the demand for cash or liquidity. According to this theory, people prefer to hold money because of the three motives – transactions, precautionary and speculative – and therefore, the interest rate is the reward for parting ways with liquidity. Understanding this theory is essential for policymakers and financial institutions as it assists them in predicting how interest rate changes would affect the economy’s overall liquidity. It helps them understand if people would hold cash or invest, thereby enabling them to manage the money supply, control inflation, and stabilize the economy effectively.


The Liquidity Preference Theory is an economic concept primarily used to understand the nature and behavior of interest rates. It essentially deals with people’s preference for liquidity, suggesting that individuals and businesses prefer to have their resources in a liquid form (i.e., as cash) rather than tied up in non-liquid assets or longer-term investments. This preference is related to the desire for flexibility and the need to respond to unexpected events or investment opportunities that may arise. The theory provides insight into how the desire for liquidity can influence the supply and demand for money, and in turn, the level of interest rates in an economy.Beyond its primary function as a tool for understanding interest rates, the Liquidity Preference Theory is also used for various purposes in financial decision-making and policy-making. For example, businesses might use it to make decisions concerning the allocation of resources between liquid and non-liquid assets. Central banks can also use the theory to help shape their monetary policies, since manipulating interest rates (a key tool in central banking) requires an understanding of the factors that influence liquidity preference and thus the demand for money.


1. Real Estate Market: For example, during a period of economic downturn, there may be many people in the real estate market selling properties. Buyers, aware of the economic downturn, might prefer to hold cash instead of committing this to property (an illiquid asset). This can be linked to the Liquidity Preference Theory as during periods of uncertainty, people prefer to hold cash (liquid asset) rather than investing in illiquid assets like properties.2. Banking Sector: Banks base their interest rates on the Liquidity Preference Theory. When banks notice that people prefer to hold onto cash (high liquidity preference), they might increase the interest rates to attract people to deposit money or invest in savings accounts. Conversely, when there is low liquidity preference, banks lower their interest rates.3. Stock Market Investment: Investors might choose to hold onto their cash instead of investing in stocks when they forecast a market downturn. While stocks can technically be sold quickly making them somewhat liquid, their value can fluctuate greatly. If investors expect stocks to decrease in value, they would prefer to hold cash, hence illustrating the Liquidity Preference Theory.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Liquidity Preference Theory?

The Liquidity Preference Theory is an economic concept that suggests individuals prefer to hold money over any other form of investment. It was presented by John Maynard Keynes, who believed that investors demand a premium for investments that carry risk rather than holding their money in the liquid form.

Who proposed the Liquidity Preference Theory?

The Liquidity Preference Theory was proposed by the British economist John Maynard Keynes in the early 20th century.

How is the Liquidity Preference Theory applied in finance and business?

The Liquidity Preference Theory is applied to predict interest rates. According to this theory, low liquidity naturally leads to high interest rates because of the increased risk involved, and high liquidity leads to lower interest rates.

Why is liquidity preference important in finance?

Liquidity preference is important because it influences interest rates. Higher liquidity preference generally leads to higher demand for money which can elevate interest rates. It also shapes the structure of yield curves, determining whether they are steep or flat.

How does the theory relate to a risk premium?

According to the Liquidity Preference Theory, investors require a risk premium for securities which have a longer term to maturity. This is because the longer the period, the higher is the risk and uncertainty. This risk premium is meant to compensate investors for holding long-term securities.

In what ways is the liquidity preference theory criticized?

Some critics argue that the Liquidity Preference Theory oversimplifies investor’s behavior and their preference for liquidity. It largely ignores other factors influencing people’s investment decisions, such as profit expectations or other market conditions.

What do liquidity preferences say about a person’s spending habits?

According to the Liquidity Preference Theory, a person with a higher liquidity preference would be more inclined to hold on to cash or to spend it only in the short term, rather than investing it or spending it on long-term commitments.

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