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Is an Automaker's Road to Bankruptcy Paved with Customers' Beliefs?


  • Ali Hortacsu
  • Gregor Matvos
  • Chaehee Shin
  • Chad Syverson
  • Sriram Venkataraman


We explore the role the feedback loop between firms' financial health and consumers' demand for their products plays in the auto market. We construct a simple model of an automaker making pricing and debt service (continuation) decisions while recognizing that consumers are sensitive to whether it stays in business. We show that multiple equilibria can exist in such a model, and calibrate it to match stylized facts surrounding GM's recent bankruptcy. The results suggest that while the impact of financial distress on demand substantially reduced GM's profit, bank-run-like multiple equilibria do not appear likely in this market.

Suggested Citation

  • Ali Hortacsu & Gregor Matvos & Chaehee Shin & Chad Syverson & Sriram Venkataraman, 2011. "Is an Automaker's Road to Bankruptcy Paved with Customers' Beliefs?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 93-97, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:93-97

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sriram Venkataraman & Gregor Matvos & Chad Syverson & Business & Business & Ali Hortacsu, 2010. "Are Consumers Affected by Durable Goods Makers’ Financial Distress? The Case of Auto Manufacturers," 2010 Meeting Papers 836, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Leland, Hayne E, 1994. " Corporate Debt Value, Bond Covenants, and Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1213-1252, September.
    3. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Shanjun & Linn, Joshua & Spiller, Elisheba, 2013. "Evaluating “Cash-for-Clunkers”: Program effects on auto sales and the environment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 175-193.
    2. Plambeck, Erica L., 2012. "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through operations and supply chain management," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(S1), pages 64-74.

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