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Safety Traps

  • Kenza Benhima
  • Baptiste Massenot

Fear of risk provides a rationale for protracted economic downturns. We develop a real business cycle model where investors with decreasing relative risk aversion choose between a risky and a safe technology that exhibit decreasing returns. Because of a feedback effect from the interest rate to risk aversion, two equilibria can emerge: a standard equilibrium and a "safe" one in which investors invest in safer assets. We refer to the dynamics of this second equilibrium as a safety trap because it is self-reinforcing as investors accumulate more wealth and show it to be consistent with Japan's lost decade.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 68-106

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:5:y:2013:i:4:p:68-106
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.5.4.68
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  1. Benhima, Kenza & Massenot, Baptiste, 2013. "Safety Traps," CEPR Discussion Papers 9636, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Graham, Bryan S & Temple, Jonathan, 2001. "Rich Nations, Poor Nations: How Much can Multiple Equilibria Explain?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3046, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2009. "Fight Or Flight? Portfolio Rebalancing by Individual Investors-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 301-348, February.
  4. Abel, A.B., 1990. "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation And Catching Up With The Joneses," Weiss Center Working Papers 1-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds and the Real Sector," Working papers 95-1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Benhima, Kenza, 2013. "A reappraisal of the allocation puzzle through the portfolio approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 331-346.
  7. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-69, July.
  8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap, 2008. "Zombie Lending and Depressed Restructuring in Japan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1943-77, December.
  9. Kraay, Aart & Loayza, Norman & Servén, Luis & Ventura, Jaume, 2001. "Country Portfolios," CEPR Discussion Papers 2974, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Michele Boldrin & Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1999. "Habit persistence, asset returns and the business cycles," Working Paper Series WP-99-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2000. "The 1990s in Japan: a lost decade," Working Papers 607, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Campbell, John & Calvert, Lauren E. & Sodini, Paolo, 2009. "Fight or Flight? Portfolio Rebalancing by Individual Investors," Scholarly Articles 2617031, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
  14. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1996. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 5817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Angeletos, George-Marios & Panousi, Vasia, 2009. "Revisiting the supply side effects of government spending," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 137-153, March.
  16. Howitt, Peter & McAfee, R Preston, 1988. "Stability of Equilibria with Externalities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(2), pages 261-77, May.
  17. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Data Appendix to The 1990s in Japan: A Lost Decade," Technical Appendices hayashi02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  18. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
  19. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-88, May.
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