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Inequality, Leverage, and Crises

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  • Michael Kumhof
  • Romain Rancière
  • Pablo Winant

Abstract

The paper studies how high household leverage and crises can be caused by changes in the income distribution. Empirically, the periods 1920-1929 and 1983-2008 both exhibited a large increase in the income share of high-income households, a large increase in debt leverage of low- and middle-income households, and an eventual financial and real crisis. The paper presents a theoretical model where higher leverage and crises are the endogenous result of a growing income share of high-income households. The model matches the profiles of the income distribution, the debt-to-income ratio and crisis risk for the three decades preceding the Great Recession. (JEL D14, D31, D33, E32, E44, G01, N22)

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Kumhof & Romain Rancière & Pablo Winant, 2015. "Inequality, Leverage, and Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1217-1245, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:3:p:1217-45
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20110683
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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