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Head-to-Head with Liquidity Crises: The Reality for Bangladesh’s Banks

Head-to-Head with Liquidity Crises

In recent months, Bangladesh’s financial sector has faced stormy waters amid a liquidity crunch. The predicament has cast a dark shadow over several major banks, particularly Islamic Shariah-based banks, which wield a powerful influence across the country’s financial sector. As these crisis responses are reflected upon, it becomes imperative to examine the complexities of the liquidity crisis, uncovering its sources, impacts and effective solutions. This article embarks on an in-depth look at the heart of Bangladesh’s current financial challenges, highlighting the multifaceted dimensions of the liquidity crisis that has emerged recently.

Bangladesh is a country characterized by economic dynamism and a growing financial sector. In the next sections of this article, we will begin a detailed exploration of the complexities surrounding a liquidity crisis. From understanding its basic concepts to dissecting the current situation in Bangladesh, the objective is to illuminate the way forward. Uncovering insights that not only shed light on the current situation but also pave the way for a resilient and strong financial future for Bangladesh.

1. What is liquidity crisis in banks?

A liquidity crunch is telling when banks may find it difficult to raise funds quickly to meet their immediate needs even if their long-term financial health is good. This situation can arise for a variety of reasons, including sudden customer withdrawals (a “bank run”), loss of confidence in institutions, disruptions in the interbank lending market, or asset price declines.

Banks generally aim to maintain a balance between their liquid assets (such as cash and short-term securities) and their liabilities (such as customer deposits and short-term loans). When this balance is disrupted and a bank does not have sufficient liquid assets to meet its obligations, it may be forced to sell assets at a loss, borrow on unfavorable terms, or seek assistance from the central bank or government authorities.
Governments and central banks often play an important role in managing liquidity crises by providing emergency funds, implementing monetary policy and implementing measures to restore confidence in the financial system. Failure to effectively deal with a liquidity crisis can have serious consequences, potentially leading to bank failures and widespread economic instability. As a result, regulators and financial institutions work to establish mechanisms to monitor and address potential liquidity challenges in the banking sector.

2. What are the liquidity challenges for banks?

The liquidity challenge for banks is a perpetual balancing act. On the one hand, they must ensure that they have enough liquid assets to meet sudden and unexpected cash needs, such as deposit withdrawals or unexpected expenses. On the other hand, banks need to deploy funds efficiently to generate return on investment and remain profitable. Maintaining this delicate balance is essential to the financial health and sustainability of a bank.

3. What is the excess liquidity of the banking sector in Bangladesh?

Excess liquidity, ostensibly a positive scenario, refers to a situation where banks have more funds than they can effectively deploy for profitable ventures. In the context of Bangladesh, this is observed when banks accumulate significant reserves that are not optimally utilized. Paradoxically, excessive liquidity can create challenges, affecting profitability and overall financial health.

4. Why is liquidity a problem for banks?

Liquidity becomes a problem for banks when there is an imbalance between the availability of liquid assets and the demand for cash These imbalances can be caused by various factors, such as a sudden increase in withdrawal requests or a mismatch between the maturities of assets and liabilities. When a bank faces difficulties in meeting these short-term obligations, it erodes the confidence of depositors and may cause problems on the bank’s operations.

5. What are examples of liquidity crisis?

A glaring example of a liquidity crisis is the 2008 global financial crisis. Major financial institutions faced acute shortages of liquid assets, stemming from exposure to risky mortgage-backed securities. This lack of liquidity led to waves of bankruptcies, government interventions and profound effects on the global economy.

6. What are the factors affecting bank liquidity?

Several factors can affect a bank’s liquidity. Economic downturns, sudden changes in market conditions, and irrational lending practices can strain a bank’s ability to maintain an optimal level of liquidity. External shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown how unexpected events can exacerbate these challenges.

7. What are the three main sources of bank liquidity?

The three primary sources of bank liquidity are customer deposits, interbank borrowings and liquid assets. Customer deposits form a fundamental component, which provides a stable source of funds. Interbank borrowing allows banks to borrow from each other to meet short-term liquidity needs. Liquid assets, such as government securities and short-term debt, offer a buffer that can be quickly converted into cash.

8. How banks increase liquidity?

Banks can increase liquidity through sound management of their asset-liability mix. Diversifying funding sources and maintaining a strong risk management framework are important strategies. Access to various financial instruments and markets also plays an important role in increasing liquidity. Moreover, prudent lending practices and effective use of central bank facilities contribute to increased liquidity.

9. What if the bank has too much liquidity?

While excess liquidity can provide a safety net during economic downturns, excessive liquidity can lead to lower returns. Funds remain unused, and the opportunity cost of not investing in more profitable ventures becomes apparent. Striking the right balance is essential for a bank to thrive in both stable and challenging economic environments.

10. How can bank liquidity decrease?

Liquidity in banks can decrease due to various reasons. Increased withdrawals by depositors, a decrease in the market value of assets, or a decrease in available funding sources can all contribute to a decrease in liquidity. External economic pressures and adverse market conditions may exacerbate the challenges, requiring proactive management by banks.

11. Explain the current liquidity crisis in Bangladesh, how, why?

The current liquidity crisis in Bangladesh is multi-faceted, with a combination of internal and external factors contributing to the challenges faced by banks. Economic uncertainty, irrational lending practices and specific issues affecting Shariah-based banks have created an uncertain situation. These institutions are grappling with increased withdrawal demand, deteriorating asset quality and lack of profitable investment opportunities.
Economic uncertainty arising from the global economic landscape and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have put additional pressure on the banking sector. Improper lending practices, where banks may extend credit without adequate risk assessment, have led to deterioration in asset quality. Shariah-based banks, adhering to Islamic principles of finance, may face unique challenges due to the nature of their operations and the specific dynamics of the markets they serve.
Addressing the “how” and “why” of the liquidity crisis requires a closer examination of individual banks, their risk management practices, and the regulatory environment. Identifying systemic weaknesses and specific problems affecting each organization is essential for targeted solutions.

12. What is the responsibility of Bangladesh Bank and the Government to deal with the liquidity crisis?

In times of liquidity crisis, the onus falls on regulatory bodies like Bangladesh Bank and the government to take decisive action to restore stability in the financial sector. Bangladesh Bank can play an important role by implementing monetary policies aimed at injecting liquidity into the banking system. This can be achieved through measures such as lowering interest rates, providing liquidity support to banks and adjusting reserve requirements. Additionally, central banks may engage in open market operations to influence the money supply and ensure the smooth functioning of financial markets.
On the other hand, the government is responsible for introducing fiscal measures and regulatory reforms to address the root causes of the liquidity crisis. Collaborative efforts between Bangladesh Bank and Government are crucial to build confidence in the financial sector and reassure depositors and investors.
Fiscal measures may include stimulus packages, interventions aimed at supporting affected sectors and measures to boost economic activity. Regulatory reforms may involve strengthening supervisory mechanisms, increasing transparency and ensuring that banks adhere to prudent lending practices.
Moreover, both the Bangladesh Bank and the government should work together to create an enabling environment for the banking sector. These include providing clear guidance, maintaining effective communication with stakeholders and putting in place measures to enhance the bank’s resilience.


As Bangladesh deals with the current liquidity crisis engulfing its banking sector, the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach cannot be overemphasized. A path to stability in these turbulent waters requires a deep understanding of the challenges at hand, along with proactive action led by regulatory agencies and governments. Restoring balance and safeguarding the long-term health of the financial system demands concerted efforts by all stakeholders.
The delicate balance between liquidity management and sustainable profitability emerges as an essential element in weathering this storm. Regulatory reform, financial regulation and building an enabling environment are important in restoring confidence in the banking sector.
As financial conditions change amid uncertainty, the resilience of Bangladesh’s banking sector depends on a collective determination to navigate the challenges, adapt to evolving dynamics and forge a path towards a stronger and more sustainable financial future. Through collaborative efforts and a commitment to sound fiscal policy, Bangladesh can emerge from this crisis with a strong financial system, poised for sustained stability and growth.
Billal Hossain
Billal Hossain
Billal Hossain, a seasoned professional with a Master's degree in Mathematics, has built a rich and varied career as a banker, economist, and anti-money laundering expert. His journey in the financial sector has seen him in leading roles, notably in AL-Rajhi Banking Inc. in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and as Foreign Relations and Correspondent Maintenance Officer of Bank-AL-Bilad. Beyond the confines of traditional finance, Billal has emerged as a prominent writer and commentator, contributing thought-provoking columns and theses to various newspapers and online portals. His expertise spans a wide range of important global issues, including the complexities of economics, political dynamics, the plight of migrant workers, remittances, reserves, and other interrelated aspects. Billal brings a unique analytical perspective to his writing, combining academic rigor with practical insights gained from his banking career. His articles not only demonstrate a deep understanding of complex issues but also provide readers with informed perspectives, bridging the gap between theory and real-world application. Billal Hossain's contributions stand as a testament to his commitment to unraveling the complexities of our interconnected world, providing valuable insights that contribute to a broader and more nuanced understanding of the global economic landscape.


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