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The Function of the Fed Funds Market

In the next four lectures, we build intuition by viewing banking as a payments system, in which every participant faces a daily settlement constraint (a survival constraint). From this point of view, the wholesale money market plays a key role by allowing banks to relax the discipline of a binding settlement constraint, delaying final payment by putting settlement off until a later date. The relative importance of the various money markets has changed since the 2008 crisis--Fed Funds is now less important--but the conceptual framework remains valid, indeed not only for dollar money markets but also for non-dollar money markets.

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