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The dynamics of the leverage cycle

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  • Christoph Aymanns
  • J. Doyne Farmer

Abstract

We present a simple agent-based model of a financial system composed of leveraged investors such as banks that invest in stocks and manage their risk using a Value-at-Risk constraint, based on historical observations of asset prices. The Value-at-Risk constraint implies that when perceived risk is low, leverage is high and vice versa, a phenomenon that has been dubbed pro-cyclical leverage. We show that this leads to endogenous irregular oscillations, in which gradual increases in stock prices and leverage are followed by drastic market collapses, i.e. a leverage cycle. This phenomenon is studied using simplified models that give a deeper understanding of the dynamics and the nature of the feedback loops and instabilities underlying the leverage cycle. We introduce a flexible leverage regulation policy in which it is possible to continuously tune from pro-cyclical to countercyclical leverage. When the policy is sufficiently countercyclical and bank risk is sufficiently low the endogenous oscillation disappears and prices go to a fixed point. While there is always a leverage ceiling above which the dynamics are unstable, countercyclical leverage can be used to raise the ceiling. We also study the impact on leverage cycles of direct, temporal control of the bank's riskiness via the bank's required Value-at-Risk quantile. Under such a rule the regulator relaxes the Value-at-Risk quantile following a negative stock price shock and tightens it following a positive shock. While such a policy rule can reduce the amplitude of leverage cycles, its effectiveness is highly dependent on the choice of parameters. Finally, we investigate fixed limits on leverage and show how they can control the leverage cycle.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Aymanns & J. Doyne Farmer, 2014. "The dynamics of the leverage cycle," Papers 1407.5305, arXiv.org, revised Aug 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1407.5305
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Adrian, Tobias & Boyarchenko, Nina, 2012. "Intermediary leverage cycles and financial stability," Staff Reports 567, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revised 01 Feb 2015.
    2. Aikman, David & Nelson, Benjamin & Tanaka, Misa, 2015. "Reputation, risk-taking, and macroprudential policy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 428-439.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Poledna, Sebastian & Molina-Borboa, José Luis & Martínez-Jaramillo, Serafín & van der Leij, Marco & Thurner, Stefan, 2015. "The multi-layer network nature of systemic risk and its implications for the costs of financial crises," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 70-81.
    2. Aymanns, Christoph & Caccioli, Fabio & Farmer, J. Doyne & Tan, Vincent W.C., 2016. "Taming the Basel leverage cycle," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 263-277.
    3. Giorgio Fagiolo & Andrea Roventini, 2017. "Macroeconomic Policy in DSGE and Agent-Based Models Redux: New Developments and Challenges Ahead," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 20(1), pages 1-1.
    4. repec:eee:intfin:v:58:y:2019:i:c:p:78-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:jeborg:v:157:y:2019:i:c:p:5-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Piero Mazzarisi & Fabrizio Lillo & Stefano Marmi, 2018. "When panic makes you blind: a chaotic route to systemic risk," Papers 1805.00785, arXiv.org.
    7. Braun-Munzinger, Karen & Liu, Zijun & Turrell, Arthur, 2016. "An agent-based model of dynamics in corporate bond trading," Bank of England working papers 592, Bank of England.
    8. Popoyan, Lilit & Napoletano, Mauro & Roventini, Andrea, 2017. "Taming macroeconomic instability: Monetary and macro-prudential policy interactions in an agent-based model," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 117-140.
    9. Koen van der Veer & Anouk Levels & Claudia Lambert & Luis Molestina Vivar & Christian Weistroffer & Raymond Chaudron & René de Sousa van Stralen, 2017. "Developing macroprudential policy for alternative investment funds," DNB Occasional Studies 1504, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    10. Poledna, Sebastian & Bochmann, Olaf & Thurner, Stefan, 2017. "Basel III capital surcharges for G-SIBs are far less effective in managing systemic risk in comparison to network-based, systemic risk-dependent financial transaction taxes," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 230-246.
    11. repec:eee:dyncon:v:82:y:2017:i:c:p:223-256 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:dyncon:v:100:y:2019:i:c:p:176-199 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:prg:jnlefa:v:2018:y:2018:i:4:id:216:p:05-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Krug, Sebastian & Wohltmann, Hans-Werner, 2016. "Shadow banking, financial regulation and animal spirits: An ACE approach," Economics Working Papers 2016-08, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    15. J. Farmer & Cameron Hepburn & Penny Mealy & Alexander Teytelboym, 2015. "A Third Wave in the Economics of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(2), pages 329-357, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G17 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Financial Forecasting and Simulation

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