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Agency costs, collateral, and business fluctuations

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  • Ben S. Bernanke
  • Mark Gertler

Abstract

Bad economic times are typically associated with a high incidence of financial distress, e.g., insolvency and bankruptcy. This paper studies the role of changes in borrower solvency in the initiation and propagation of the business cycle. We first develop a model of the process of financing real investment projects under asymmetric information, extending work by Robert Townsend. A major conclusion here is that when the entrepreneurs who borrow to finance projects are more solvent (have more "collateral"), the deadweight agency costs of investment finance are lower. This model of investment finance is then embedded in a dynamic macroeconomic setting. We show that, first, since reductions in collateral in bad times increase the agency costs of borrowing, which in turn depress the demand for investment, the presence of these financial factors will tend to amplify swings in real output. Second, we find that autonomous factors which affect the collateral of borrowers (as in a "debt-deflation") can actually initiate cycles in output.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1986. "Agency costs, collateral, and business fluctuations," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:1986:x:7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
    2. Greenwald, Bruce & Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1984. "Informational Imperfections in the Capital Market and Macroeconomic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 194-199, May.
    3. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
    4. Douglas W. Diamond, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414.
    5. Williamson, Stephen D, 1987. "Financial Intermediation, Business Failures, and Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1196-1216, December.
    6. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
    7. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
    8. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
    9. King, Robert G & Plosser, Charles I, 1984. "Money, Credit, and Prices in a Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 363-380, June.
    10. Sappington, David, 1983. "Limited liability contracts between principal and agent," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-21, February.
    11. Douglas Gale & Martin Hellwig, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 647-663.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Gertler, 1988. "Financial structure and aggregate economic activity: an overview," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 559-596.
    2. Martin C. Schmalz & David A. Sraer & David Thesmar, 2017. "Housing Collateral and Entrepreneurship," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 72(1), pages 99-132, February.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:3:p:642-:d:133972 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Mervyn K. Lewis, 2014. "An Islamic perspective on the global financial crisis and its aftermath," Chapters,in: Handbook on Islam and Economic Life, chapter 31, pages iii-iii Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Amy Rice & Tugrul Vehbi & Benjamin Wong, 2018. "Measuring uncertainty and its impact on the New Zealand economy," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Analytical Notes series AN2018/01, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    6. Sandra Eickmeier & Boris Hofmann & Andreas Worms, 2009. "Macroeconomic Fluctuations and Bank Lending: Evidence for Germany and the Euro Area," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 193-223, May.
    7. Karen Mills & Steve Morling & Warren Tease, 1993. "Balance Sheet Restructuring and Investment," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp9308, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    8. Mervyn Lewis, 2010. "An Islamic Economic Perspective on the Global Financial Crisis," Chapters,in: Macroeconomic Theory and its Failings, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Benjamin M. Friedman, 1988. "Targets and Instruments of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 2668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Martino, Ricci & Patrizio, Tirelli, 2017. "Subprime Mortgages and Banking in a DSGE Model," Working Papers 366, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 22 Jun 2017.
    11. Robert Flood & Michael Mussa, 1994. "Issues Concerning Nominal Anchors for Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 4850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Karen Mills & Steven Morling & Warren Tease, 1994. "Balance Sheet Restructuring and Investment," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 27(1), pages 83-100.
    13. Tuomas Peltonen & Ricardo Sousa & Isabel Vansteenkiste, 2012. "Investment in emerging market economies," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 97-119, August.
    14. M. Kabir Hassan & Mervyn K. Lewis (ed.), 2014. "Handbook on Islam and Economic Life," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 16009, June.

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    Bank loans;

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