What is the role of commercial paper?

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Commercial paper is a short-term debt instrument issued by corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies to meet short-term funding needs.

Commercial Paper


Short-term Maturity: CP typically has a maturity, ranging from 1 to 270 days, addressing short-term funding needs.

Discounted Purchase: Issued at a discount to its face value, CP provides a straightforward way for issuers to raise funds.

Highly Liquid: CP is highly tradable, allowing investors to buy and sell in the secondary market for liquidity.


Corporations: Companies issue CP to meet short-term financial needs, like covering working capital or funding brief operational gaps.

Financial Institutions: Banks may use CP to manage short-term liquidity or support lending activities.

Government Agencies: Certain government entities utilize CP for short-term funding, especially in specific projects or programs.


Institutional Investors: Entities like money market funds, mutual funds, and pension funds are major CP investors due to its short-term nature and relatively low risk.

Individual Investors: Though less common, individual investors may access CP through money market funds or brokerage accounts.

Unsecured Nature

CP is termed unsecured because it lacks collateral or specific assets backing it.

This unsecured nature exposes investors to credit risk, relying solely on the issuer’s creditworthiness for repayment.

Investors prefer issuers with strong credit ratings to minimize credit risk.

Credit Ratings

Creditworthiness: Higher credit ratings indicate a lower credit risk, influencing interest rates for CP issuers.

Rating Agencies: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch assess issuer creditworthiness based on financial strength, business profile, and market conditions.

Examples of Commercial Paper Issuers and Usage

Example 1 – Corporation: XYZ Corporation issues CP to cover a temporary cash flow gap during the production season, offering a cost-effective solution for their working capital needs.

Example 2 – Financial Institution: ABC Bank utilizes CP to manage its short-term liquidity, ensuring it has funds readily available for daily operations and customer transactions.

Example 3 – Government Agency: A municipal government agency issues CP to fund a specific infrastructure project, taking advantage of the flexibility and efficiency of short-term financing.

Role in Short-Term Funding

Liquidity Management: CP serves as a vital tool for issuers to manage short-term liquidity, especially during periods of fluctuating cash flow.

Investment Opportunity: For investors, CP presents a relatively safe and liquid option for short-term investments, with potentially higher yields compared to traditional savings accounts or Treasury bills.


Commercial Paper is a dynamic financial instrument used by various entities to address short-term financing needs efficiently. While it provides issuers with quick access to funds, investors should carefully evaluate credit risk, emphasizing the importance of the issuer’s creditworthiness in the investment decision.

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