IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Fire Sales in Finance and Macroeconomics

  • Andrei Shleifer
  • Robert Vishny

Analysts of the recent financial crisis often refer to the role of asset "fire sales" in depleting the balance sheets of financial institutions and aggravating the fragility of the financial system. The term "fire sale" has been around since the nineteenth century to describe firms selling smoke-damaged merchandise at cut-rate prices in the aftermath of a fire. But what are fire sales in broad financial markets with hundreds of participants? As we suggested in a 1992 paper, a fire sale is essentially a forced sale of an asset at a dislocated price. The asset sale is forced in the sense that the seller cannot pay creditors without selling assets. The price is dislocated because the highest potential bidders are typically involved in a similar activity as the seller, and are therefore themselves indebted and cannot borrow more to buy the asset. Indeed, rather than bidding for the asset, they might be selling similar assets themselves. Assets are then bought by nonspecialists who, knowing that they have less expertise with the assets in question, are only willing to buy at valuations that are much lower. In this paper, we selectively review some of the research on fire sales, emphasizing both concepts and supporting evidence. We begin by describing our 1992 model of fire sales and the related findings in empirical corporate finance. We then show that models of fire sales can account for several related phenomena during the recent financial crisis, including the contraction of the banking system and the failures of arbitrage in financial markets exemplified by historically unprecedented differences in prices of very similar securities. We then link fire sales to macroeconomics by discussing how such dislocations of security prices and the reduction in balance sheets of banks can reduce investment and output. Finally, we consider how the concept of fire sales can help us think about government interventions in financial markets, including the evidently successful Federal Reserve interventions in 2009. Fire sales are surely not the whole story of the financial crisis, but they are a phenomenon that binds together many elements of the crisis.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.1.29
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 29-48

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:1:p:29-48
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.1.29
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Acharya, Viral V. & Schnabl, Philipp & Suarez, Gustavo, 2013. "Securitization without risk transfer," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 515-536.
  2. Sanford J. Grossman & Oliver D. Hart, 1987. "One Share/One Vote and The Market for Corporate Control," Working papers 440, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Efraim Benmelech & Nittai K. Bergman, 2008. "Liquidation Values and the Credibility of Financial Contract Renegotiation: Evidence from U.S. Airlines," NBER Working Papers 14059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joshua D. Coval & Erik Stafford, 2005. "Asset Fire Sales (and Purchases) in Equity Markets," NBER Working Papers 11357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1998. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 1-40, February.
  6. Brunnermeier, Markus K & Pedersen, Lasse Heje, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," CEPR Discussion Papers 6179, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1997. "Default and Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model of Debt," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1792, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Gary Gorton & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Securitized Banking and the Run on Repo," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2358, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Sep 2009.
  9. Benmelech, Efraim & Bergman, Nittai K., 2009. "Collateral pricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 339-360, March.
  10. Denis Gromb & Dimitri Vayanos, 2002. "Equilibrium and welfare in markets with financially constrained arbitrageurs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 448, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Franklin R. Edward, 1999. "Hedge Funds and the Collapse of Long-Term Capital Management," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 189-210, Spring.
  12. Simeon Djankov & Oliver Hart & Caralee McLiesh & Andrei Shleifer, 2006. "Debt Enforcement Around the World," NBER Working Papers 12807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2008. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-08," NBER Working Papers 14612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Zhiguo He & In Gu Khang & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2010. "Balance Sheet Adjustments during the 2008 Crisis," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 58(1), pages 118-156, August.
  15. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, March.
  16. Viral V. Acharya & Hyun Song Shin & Tanju Yorulmazer, 2011. "Crisis Resolution and Bank Liquidity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(6), pages 2166-2205.
  17. Almeida, Heitor & Campello, Murillo & Hackbarth, Dirk, 2011. "Liquidity mergers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 526-558.
  18. Guido Lorenzoni, 2007. "Inefficient Credit Booms," NBER Working Papers 13639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Kahle, Kathleen M. & Stulz, Rene M., 2010. "Financial Policies and the Financial Crisis: How Important Was the Systemic Credit Contraction for Industrial Corporations?," Working Paper Series 2010-13, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  20. Campello, Murillo & Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R., 2010. "The real effects of financial constraints: Evidence from a financial crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(3), pages 470-487, September.
  21. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
  22. Tobias Adrian & Hyun Song Shin, 2010. "The changing nature of financial intermediation and the financial crisis of 2007-09," Staff Reports 439, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  23. Robert Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  24. Zhiguo He & In Gu Khang & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2010. "Balance Sheet Adjustments in the 2008 Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Williamson, Oliver E, 1988. " Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 567-91, July.
  26. Per Stromberg, . "Conflicts of Interest and Market Illiquidity in Bankruptcy Auctions: Theory and Tests," CRSP working papers 459, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  27. Zoltan Pozsar & Tobias Adrian & Adam Ashcraft & Hayley Boesky, 2010. "Shadow banking," Staff Reports 458, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  28. Joshua Coval & Jakub Jurek & Erik Stafford, 2009. "The Economics of Structured Finance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 3-25, Winter.
  29. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  30. Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2010. "How Debt Markets Have Malfunctioned in the Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
  31. Jeremy C. Stein & Anil K. Kashyap, 2000. "What Do a Million Observations on Banks Say about the Transmission of Monetary Policy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 407-428, June.
  32. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2009. "Fear of Fire Sales and the Credit Freeze," NBER Working Papers 14925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. John Y. Campbell & Stefano Giglio & Parag Pathak, 2009. "Forced Sales and House Prices," NBER Working Papers 14866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2009. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-2008," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 77-100, Winter.
  35. repec:bla:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:3:p:809-833 is not listed on IDEAS
  36. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  37. Hernán Ortiz-Molina & Gordon M. Phillips, 2010. "Asset Liquidity and the Cost of Capital," NBER Working Papers 15992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1990. "The Noise Trader Approach to Finance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 19-33, Spring.
  39. Ivashina, Victoria & Scharfstein, David, 2010. "Bank lending during the financial crisis of 2008," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(3), pages 319-338, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:1:p:29-48. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.