Business: Opening the Window Wider

When a U.S. bank wants to raise cash, it can sell some Treasury bonds, issue certificates of deposit, or repatriate Eurodollars from its branches overseas. If it is a member of the Federal Reserve System, it can also appeal to "the lender of last resort"—the system's discount window. The price is high. Besides paying interest, currently 51%, the bank must submit to scrutiny that is even closer than usual. As a result, only 1% of credit extended to the banks has been passing through the Fed's discount window in recent years.

This is almost certainly going to change. A study by a...