Commercial paper, a third source of short-term credit, consists of well-established firms’ promissory notes sold primarily to other businesses, insurance companies, pension funds, and banks. Commercial paper is issued for periods varying from two to six months. The rates on prime commercial paper vary, but they are generally slightly below the rates paid on prime business loans.
A basic limitation of the commercial-paper market is that its resources are limited to the excess liquidity that corporations, the main suppliers of funds, may have at any particular time. Another disadvantage is the impersonality of the dealings; a bank is much more likely to help a good customer weather a storm than is a commercial-paper dealer.