Journal Article

Inefficient Credit Booms

Guido Lorenzoni

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 75, issue 3, pages 809-833
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2008.00494.x
Inefficient Credit Booms

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This paper studies the welfare properties of competitive equilibria in an economy with financial frictions hit by aggregate shocks. In particular, it shows that competitive financial contracts can result in excessive borrowing ex ante and excessive volatility ex post. Even though from a first-best perspective the equilibrium always displays under-borrowing, from a second-best point of view excessive borrowing can arise. The inefficiency is due to the combination of limited commitment in financial contracts and the fact that asset prices are determined in a spot market. This generates a pecuniary externality that is not internalized in private contracts. The model provides a framework to evaluate preventive policies, which can be used during a credit boom to reduce the expected costs of a financial crisis.

Keywords: G12

Journal Article.  12258 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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