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Default and Punishment in General Equilibrium

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Abstract

We extend the standard model of general equilibrium with incomplete markets to allow for default and punishment. The equilibrating variables include expected delivery rates, along with the usual prices of assets and commodities. By reinterpreting the variables, our model encompasses a broad range of moral hazard, adverse selection, and signalling phenomena (including the Akerlof lemons model and Rothschild-Stiglitz insurance model) in a general equilibrium framework. We impose a condition on the expected delivery rates for untraded assets that is similar to the trembling hand refinements used in game theory. Despite earlier claims about the nonexistence of equilibrium with adverse selection, we show that equilibrium always exists, even with exclusivity constraints on asset sales, and transactions-liquidity costs or information-evaluation costs for asset trade. We show that more lenient punishment which encourages default may be Pareto improving because it allows for better risk spreading. We also show that default opens the door to a theory of endogenous assets.

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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1304.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: May 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1304

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Keywords: Default; incomplete markets; adverse selection; moral hazard; equilibrium refinement; endogenous assets;

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  1. Hart, O. & Moore, J., 1989. "Default And Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model Of Debt," Working papers 520, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Hellwig, Martin, 1987. "Some recent developments in the theory of competition in markets with adverse selection ," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 319-325.
  3. William R. Zame, 1992. "Efficiency and the Role of Default When Security Markets are Incomplete," UCLA Economics Working Papers 673, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  5. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2001. "Signalling and Default: Rothschild-Stiglitz Reconsidered," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1305, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, . "Optimal Security Design," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 26-87, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1991. "Financial Innovation in a General Equilibrium Model," UCLA Economics Working Papers 635, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Bisin, Alberto & Gottardi, Piero, 1999. "Competitive Equilibria with Asymmetric Information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 1-48, July.
  9. Helpman, Elhanan & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1975. "On moral hazard in general equilibrium theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 8-23, February.
  10. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, . "Arbitrage, Short Sales and Financial Innovation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 10-89, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  11. Gale, Douglas, 1992. "A Walrasian Theory of Markets with Adverse Selection," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 229-55, April.
  12. John Geanakoplos, 1996. "Promises Promises," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1143, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  13. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  14. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos & Martin Shubik, 1988. "Default and Efficiency in a General Equilibrium Model with Incomplete Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 879R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Feb 1989.
  15. Prescott, Edward C & Townsend, Robert M, 1984. "Pareto Optima and Competitive Equilibria with Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 21-45, January.
  16. Radner, Roy, 1972. "Existence of Equilibrium of Plans, Prices, and Price Expectations in a Sequence of Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(2), pages 289-303, March.
  17. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
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