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U.S. inequality: Debt constraints or incomplete asset markets?

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  • Cordoba, Juan-Carlos

Abstract

To examine the role of debt constraints and incomplete asset markets (lack of insurance markets) in explaining U.S. inequality, we run horse races between competing models. For a widely used model, we decompose inequality into its fundamental driving forces. The underlying source of inequality in all models is uninsurable idiosyncratic risk. Both debt constraints and incomplete asset markets are needed to account for inequality, but asset market incompleteness is the key friction. It better accounts for the concentration and dispersion of wealth, and is the most costly friction in terms of welfare. Tight debt constraints are important for explaining the lower tail of the wealth distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 55 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 350-364

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:55:y:2008:i:2:p:350-364

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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Cited by:
  1. Eva Carceles Poveda & Arpad Abraham, 2009. "Tax Reform with Endogenous Borrowing Limits and Incomplete Asset Markets," 2009 Meeting Papers 1196, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Vadym Lepetyuk & Christian A. Stoltenberg, 2013. "Reconciling Consumption Inequality with Income Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-124/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
  3. Feigenbaum, James, 2011. "Precautionary saving or denied dissaving," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 1559-1572, July.
  4. Christian A. Stoltenberg & Vadym Lepetyuk, 2012. "Reconciling consumption inequality with income inequality," Working Papers. Serie AD 2012-19, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  5. Moritz Kuhn & Mark Wright & Tom Krebs, 2012. "Human Capital Risk, Contract Enforcement, and the Macroeconomy," 2012 Meeting Papers 159, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Ábrahám, Árpád & Cárceles-Poveda, Eva, 2010. "Endogenous trading constraints with incomplete asset markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 974-1004, May.
  7. Broer, Tobias, 2011. "The wrong shape of insurance? What cross-sectional distributions tell us about models of consumption-smoothing," CEPR Discussion Papers 8701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Sofía Bauducco & Gonzalo Castex, 2013. "The Wealth Distribution in Developing Economies: Comparing the United States to Chile," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 702, Central Bank of Chile.
  9. Tobias Broer, 2009. "Stationary equilibrium distributions in economies with limited commitment," Economics Working Papers ECO2009/39, European University Institute.
  10. Xavier Mateos-Planas & Giulio Seccia, 2013. "Consumer Default with Complete Markets: Default-based Pricing and Finite Punishment," Working Papers 711, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.

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