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Endogenous Leverage: VaR and Beyond

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Abstract

We study endogenous leverage in a general equilibrium model with incomplete markets. We prove that in any binary tree leverage emerges in equilibrium at the maximum level such that VaR = 0, so there is no default in equilibrium, provided that agents get no utility from holding the collateral. When the collateral does affect utility (as with housing) or when agents have sufficiently heterogenous beliefs over three or more states, VaR = 0 fails to hold in equilibrium. We study commonly used examples: an economy in which investors have heterogenous beliefs and a CAPM economy consisting of investors with different risk aversion. We find two main departures from VaR = 0. First, both examples show that with enough heterogeneity among the investors, equilibrium default is normal. Second, we find that more than one contract is actively traded in equilibrium on the same collateral, that is, the same asset is bought at different margin requirements by different agents. Finally, we study the relationship between leverage and asset prices. We provide an example that shows that as the regulatory authority gradually relaxes leverage restrictions from low levels and permits leverage to rise, asset prices start to rise, but eventually increased leverage paradoxically tends to reduce asset prices because the risky bonds become substitutes for the asset used as collateral.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1800.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1800

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Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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Keywords: Endogenous leverage; Collateral equilibrium; VaR; Asset prices;

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Cited by:
  1. Sebastian Infante, 2013. "Repo collateral fire sales: the effects of exemption from automatic stay," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-83, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Tomura, Hajime, 2013. "Heterogeneous beliefs and housing-market boom-bust cycles," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 735-755.
  3. Ana Fostel & John Geanakoplos, 2010. "Why Does Bad News Increase Volatility and Decrease Leverage?," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1762RR, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Aug 2011.
  4. Ana Fostel & John Geanakoplos, 2011. "Tranching, CDS and Asset Prices: How Financial Innovation Can Cause Bubbles and Crashes," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000192, David K. Levine.

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