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Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt

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  • Christian Hellwig
  • Guido Lorenzoni

Abstract

We characterize equilibria with endogenous debt constraints for a general equilibrium economy with limited commitment in which the only consequence of default is losing the ability to borrow in future periods. First, we show that equilibrium debt limits must satisfy a simple condition that allows agents to exactly roll over existing debt period by period. Second, we provide an equivalence result, whereby the resulting set of equilibrium allocations with self-enforcing private debt is equivalent to the allocations that are sustained with unbacked public debt or rational bubbles; for the latter, there exist well known existence and characterization results. In contrast to the classic result by Bulow and Rogoff (AER 1989), positive levels of debt are sustainable in our environment because the interest rate is sufficiently low to provide repayment incentives.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12614.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Publication status: published as Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2009. "Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1137-1164, 07.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12614

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