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The Safety Trap

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  • Ricardo J Caballero
  • Emmanuel Farhi

Abstract

In this article, we provide a model of the macroeconomic implications of safe asset shortages. In particular, we discuss the emergence of a deflationary safety trap equilibrium with endogenous risk premia. It is an acute form of a liquidity trap, in which the shortage of a specific form of assets, safe assets, as opposed to a general shortage of assets, is the fundamental driving force. At the Zero Lower Bound, our model has a Keynesian cross representation, in which net safe asset supply plays the role of an aggregate demand shifter. Essentially, safety traps correspond to liquidity traps in which the emergence of an endogenous risk premium significantly alters the connection between macroeconomic policy and economic activity. “Helicopter drops” of money, safe public debt issuances, swaps of private risky assets for safe public debt, or increases in the inflation target, stimulate aggregate demand and output, while forward guidance is less effective. The safety trap can be arbitrarily persistent, as in the secular stagnation hypothesis, despite the existence of infinitely lived assets.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo J Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi, 2018. "The Safety Trap," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(1), pages 223-274.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:85:y:2018:i:1:p:223-274.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdx013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Veronica Guerrieri & Guido Lorenzoni, 2017. "Credit Crises, Precautionary Savings, and the Liquidity Trap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(3), pages 1427-1467.
    2. Arvind Krishnamurthy & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2011. "The Effects of Quantitative Easing on Interest Rates: Channels and Implications for Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(2 (Fall)), pages 215-287.
    3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi, 2013. "A Model of the Safe Asset Mechanism (SAM): Safety Traps and Economic Policy," Working Paper 70936, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    4. Emmanuel Farhi & Ivan Werning, "undated". "Fiscal Multipliers: Liquidity Traps and Currency Unions," Working Paper 78556, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    5. Anton Korinek & Alp Simsek, 2016. "Liquidity Trap and Excessive Leverage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 699-738, March.
    6. Robert J. Barro, 2014. "Safe Assets," Working Papers 2014-28, Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea.
    7. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 2010. "Financial Innovation and Financial Fragility," NBER Chapters, in: Market Institutions and Financial Market Risk, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How to Ensure the Crisis Provision of Safe Assets
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2017-06-26 13:52:56
    2. The safe asset girdle on liquidity
      by SFF in policy economics on 2016-09-23 05:51:03

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Athanasios Orphanides, 2020. "The fiscal–monetary policy mix in the euro area: challenges at the zero lower bound," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 35(103), pages 461-517.
    2. Gary Gorton & Tyler Muir, 2016. "Mobile Collateral versus Immobile Collateral," NBER Working Papers 22619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Claudio Michelacci & Luigi Paciello, 2020. "Ambiguous Policy Announcements," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(5), pages 2356-2398.
    4. Robert J. Barro, 2014. "Safe Assets," Working Papers 2014-28, Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea.
    5. repec:cbh:journl:v:14:y:2015:i:1:p:111-138 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Olivier Blanchard, 2018. "Distortions in Macroeconomics," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 547-554.
    7. Benjamin D. Keen & Alexander W. Richter & Nathaniel A. Throckmorton, 2017. "Forward Guidance And The State Of The Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1593-1624, October.
    8. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Neil R. Mehrotra & Sanjay R. Singh & Lawrence H. Summers, 2016. "A Contagious Malady? Open Economy Dimensions of Secular Stagnation," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 64(4), pages 581-634, November.
    9. Patrizio Pagano & Massimo Sbracia, 2014. "The secular stagnation hypothesis: a review of the debate and some insights," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 231, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    10. Gertler, M. & Kiyotaki, N. & Prestipino, A., 2016. "Wholesale Banking and Bank Runs in Macroeconomic Modeling of Financial Crises," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 1345-1425, Elsevier.
    11. Luigi Bonatti, 2016. "Anemic economic growth in advanced economies: structural factors and the impotence of expansionary macroeconomic policies," DEM Working Papers 2016/11, Department of Economics and Management.
    12. Dániel Horváth & Róbert Szini, 2015. "The safety trap – the financial market and macroeconomic consequences of the scarcity of safe assets," Financial and Economic Review, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary), vol. 14(1), pages 111-138.
    13. Azariadis, Costas & Bullard, James & Singh, Aarti & Suda, Jacek, 2019. "Incomplete credit markets and monetary policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 83-101.
    14. Gilles Le Garrec & Vincent Touzé, 2016. "Capital accumulation and the dynamic of secular stagnation," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2016-17, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    15. Michele Lanotte & Giacomo Manzelli & Anna Maria Rinaldi & Marco Taboga & Pietro Tommasino, 2016. "Easier said than done? Reforming the prudential treatment of banks� sovereign exposures," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 326, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Liquidity traps; Risk premia; Forward guidance; Quantitative easing; Unconventional; monetary policy; Helicopter drops;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services

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