Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Fire Sales in Finance and Macroeconomics

Contents:

Author Info

  • Andrei Shleifer
  • Robert Vishny

Abstract

Analysts of the recent financial crisis often refer to the role of asset "fire sales" in depleting the balance sheets of financial institutions and aggravating the fragility of the financial system. The term "fire sale" has been around since the nineteenth century to describe firms selling smoke-damaged merchandise at cut-rate prices in the aftermath of a fire. But what are fire sales in broad financial markets with hundreds of participants? As we suggested in a 1992 paper, a fire sale is essentially a forced sale of an asset at a dislocated price. The asset sale is forced in the sense that the seller cannot pay creditors without selling assets. The price is dislocated because the highest potential bidders are typically involved in a similar activity as the seller, and are therefore themselves indebted and cannot borrow more to buy the asset. Indeed, rather than bidding for the asset, they might be selling similar assets themselves. Assets are then bought by nonspecialists who, knowing that they have less expertise with the assets in question, are only willing to buy at valuations that are much lower. In this paper, we selectively review some of the research on fire sales, emphasizing both concepts and supporting evidence. We begin by describing our 1992 model of fire sales and the related findings in empirical corporate finance. We then show that models of fire sales can account for several related phenomena during the recent financial crisis, including the contraction of the banking system and the failures of arbitrage in financial markets exemplified by historically unprecedented differences in prices of very similar securities. We then link fire sales to macroeconomics by discussing how such dislocations of security prices and the reduction in balance sheets of banks can reduce investment and output. Finally, we consider how the concept of fire sales can help us think about government interventions in financial markets, including the evidently successful Federal Reserve interventions in 2009. Fire sales are surely not the whole story of the financial crisis, but they are a phenomenon that binds together many elements of the crisis.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.1.29
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 29-48

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:1:p:29-48

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.1.29
Contact details of provider:
Email:
Web page: http://www.aeaweb.org/jep/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Web: http://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Gromb, Denis & Vayanos, Dimitri, 2002. "Equilibrium and welfare in markets with financially constrained arbitrageurs," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 361-407.
  2. Shleifer, Andrei & McLiesh, Caralee & Hart, Oliver & Djankov, Simeon, 2008. "Debt Enforcement Around the World," Scholarly Articles 2961825, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2008. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-08," NBER Working Papers 14612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 12939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1996. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 5817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Viral V. Acharya & Hyun Song Shin & Tanju Yorulmazer, 2011. "Crisis Resolution and Bank Liquidity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(6), pages 2166-2205.
  7. Sanford J. Grossman & Oliver D. Hart, 1987. "One Share/One Vote and The Market for Corporate Control," Working papers 440, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Douglas W Diamond, 2010. "Fear of fire sales and the credit freeze," BIS Working Papers 305, Bank for International Settlements.
  9. Murillo Campello & John Graham & Campbell R. Harvey, 2009. "The Real Effects of Financial Constraints: Evidence from a Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Efraim Benmelech & Nittai K. Bergman, 2008. "Liquidation Values and the Credibility of Financial Contract Renegotiation: Evidence from U.S. Airlines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1635-1677, November.
  11. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
  12. Acharya, Viral V. & Schnabl, Philipp & Suarez, Gustavo, 2013. "Securitization without risk transfer," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 515-536.
  13. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, Octomber.
  14. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2009. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-2008," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 77-100, Winter.
  15. Pozsar, Zoltan & Adrian, Tobias & Ashcraft, Adam B. & Boesky, Hayley, 2013. "Shadow banking," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Dec, pages 1-16.
    • Zoltan Pozsar & Tobias Adrian & Adam Ashcraft & Hayley Boesky, 2010. "Shadow banking," Staff Reports 458, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  16. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1997. "Default and Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model of Debt," NBER Working Papers 5907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2010. "How Debt Markets Have Malfunctioned in the Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
  18. Per Strömberg, 2000. "Conflicts of Interest and Market Illiquidity in Bankruptcy Auctions: Theory and Tests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2641-2692, December.
  19. Gary Gorton & Andrew Metrick, 2010. "Securitized Banking and the Run on Repo," NBER Chapters, in: Market Institutions and Financial Market Risk National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  21. John Y. Campbell & Stefano Giglio & Parag Pathak, 2011. "Forced Sales and House Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2108-31, August.
  22. Ivashina, Victoria & Scharfstein, David, 2010. "Bank lending during the financial crisis of 2008," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(3), pages 319-338, September.
  23. Kathleen M. Kahle & René M. Stulz, 2010. "Financial Policies and the Financial Crisis: How Important Was the Systemic Credit Contraction for Industrial Corporations?," NBER Working Papers 16310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  25. Guido Lorenzoni, 2007. "Inefficient Credit Booms," NBER Working Papers 13639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Hernán Ortiz-Molina & Gordon M. Phillips, 2010. "Asset Liquidity and the Cost of Capital," NBER Working Papers 15992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Joshua Coval & Jakub Jurek & Erik Stafford, 2009. "The Economics of Structured Finance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 3-25, Winter.
  28. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
  29. Benmelech, Efraim & Bergman, Nittai K., 2009. "Collateral pricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 339-360, March.
  30. Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1990. "The Noise Trader Approach to Finance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 19-33, Spring.
  31. Jeremy C. Stein & Anil K. Kashyap, 2000. "What Do a Million Observations on Banks Say about the Transmission of Monetary Policy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 407-428, June.
  32. Zhiguo He & In Gu Khang & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2010. "Balance Sheet Adjustments during the 2008 Crisis," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 58(1), pages 118-156, August.
  33. Joshua D. Coval & Erik Stafford, 2005. "Asset Fire Sales (and Purchases) in Equity Markets," NBER Working Papers 11357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. repec:bla:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:3:p:809-833 is not listed on IDEAS
  35. Zhiguo He & In Gu Khang & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2010. "Balance Sheet Adjustments in the 2008 Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Heitor Almeida & Murillo Campello & Dirk Hackbarth, 2011. "Liquidity Mergers," NBER Working Papers 16724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  37. Tobias Adrian & Hyun Song Shin, 2010. "The changing nature of financial intermediation and the financial crisis of 2007-09," Staff Reports 439, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  38. Franklin R. Edward, 1999. "Hedge Funds and the Collapse of Long-Term Capital Management," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 189-210, Spring.
  39. Williamson, Oliver E, 1988. " Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 567-91, July.
  40. Kahle, Kathleen M. & Stulz, Rene M., 2010. "Financial Policies and the Financial Crisis: How Important Was the Systemic Credit Contraction for Industrial Corporations?," Working Paper Series 2010-13, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:1:p:29-48. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.