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Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy


  • John Geanakoplos
  • Ana Fostel


We provide a pricing theory for emerging asset classes, like emerging markets, that are not yet mature enough to be attractive to the general public. We show how leverage cycles can cause contagion, flight to collateral, and issuance rationing in a frequently recurring phase we call the anxious economy. Our model provides an explanation for the volatile access of emerging economies to international financial markets, and for three stylized facts we identify in emerging markets and high yield data since the late 1990s. Our analytical framework is a general equilibrium model with heterogeneous agents, incomplete markets, and endogenous collateral, plus an extension encompassing adverse selection. (JEL D53, G12, G14, G15)

Suggested Citation

  • John Geanakoplos & Ana Fostel, 2008. "Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1211-1244, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:4:p:1211-44 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.4.1211

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    2. Jawwad Noor, 2007. "Hyperbolic Discounting and the Standard Model," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2007-028, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Karni, Edi & Schmeidler, David, 1991. "Atemporal dynamic consistency and expected utility theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 401-408, August.
    4. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-758.
    5. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    6. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    7. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
    8. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680, June.
    9. Daniel Ellsberg, 1961. "Risk, Ambiguity, and the Savage Axioms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 643-669.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy (AER 2008) in ReplicationWiki
    2. Economic Logic blog


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