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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. 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.
  2. Holmstrom, B & Tirole, J, 1996. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Working papers 96-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Kraay, Aart & Loayza, Norman & Servén, Luis & Ventura, Jaume, 2001. "Country Portfolios," CEPR Discussion Papers 2974, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "The 1990s in Japan: A Lost Decade," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 206-235, January.
  5. Kenza Benhima & Baptiste Massenot, 2012. "Safety Traps," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 12.04, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  6. Kenza Benhima, 2008. "A Reappraisal of the Allocation Puzzle through the Portfolio Approach," EconomiX Working Papers 2008-27, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  7. Bryan Graham & Jonathan Temple, 2006. "Rich Nations, Poor Nations: How Much Can Multiple Equilibria Explain?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 5-41, 03.
  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. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
  10. Michele Boldrin & Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2000. "Habit persistence, asset returns and the business cycle," Staff Report 280, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. 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.
  12. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-88, May.
  13. A. Abel, 2010. "Asset prices under habit formation and catching up with the Jones," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1395, David K. Levine.
  14. 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.
  15. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2008. "Fight or Flight? Portfolio Rebalancing by Individual Investors," NBER Working Papers 14177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. G. Constantinides, 1990. "Habit formation: a resolution of the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1397, David K. Levine.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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