Understanding Liquidity

Liquid is something which is neither solid nor gas. It is that which conforms to the shape of the vessel containing it. Water is the best example of a liquid. However in finance liquidity has a very different meaning.

Liquidity in simple words means the amount of money circulating and available to all participants in the financial markets and we have been hearing about the excess liquidity at all forums.

Participants include individuals, corporate entities and the government.

The most fundamental concept of economics; Demand and Supply of money determine the liquidity in the system.

And the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has the power to increase or decrease the liquidity in the financial markets using various policy tools.

So in a sense we can imagine that the liquid tap is housed within the RBI. If the level of liquidity in the system drops, RBI has the power to loosen the tap a little and allow more money to gush into the system. Perhaps it is this similarity that had led to the term liquidity getting associated with money supply.

There are four main policy tools that RBI uses:  

  1. Cash reserve ratio
  2. Open market operations / Liquidity Adjustment Facility
  3. Repo and reverse repo rate
  4. Statutory Liquidity Ratio

So, what affects liquidity?

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