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Liquidity and Liquidation


  • Kelly, David
  • LeRoy, Stephen F.


The manager of a firm that is selling an illiquid asset has discretion as to the sale price: if he chooses a high (low) selling price, early sale is unlikely (likely). If the manager has the option to default on the debt that is collaterized by the illiquid asset, the optimal selling price depends on whether the manager acts in the interest of the owners or the creditors. We model the former case. In the preferred equilibrium, the owner will always offer the illiquid asset for sale at a strictly higher price than he paid, and he will always default if he fails to sell. As a result, the illiquid asset changes hands at successively higher prices; the price inflation terminates upon the first failure to sell, which results in a default chain.

Suggested Citation

  • Kelly, David & LeRoy, Stephen F., 2001. "Liquidity and Liquidation," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4fq7n6pj, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt4fq7n6pj

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1992. " Liquidation Values and Debt Capacity: A Market Equilibrium Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1343-1366, September.
    2. John G. Riley & Richard Zeckhauser, 1980. "Optimal Selling Strategies:," UCLA Economics Working Papers 180, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Krainer, John, 2001. "A Theory of Liquidity in Residential Real Estate Markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 32-53, January.
    4. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-180, January.
    5. Haugen, Robert A & Senbet, Lemma W, 1978. "The Insignificance of Bankruptcy Costs to the Theory of Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(2), pages 383-393, May.
    6. Ko Wang & Leslie Young & Yuqing Zhou, 2002. "Nondiscriminating Foreclosure and Voluntary Liquidating Costs," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(3), pages 959-985.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Krainer & Mark M. Spiegel & Nobuyoshi Yamori, 2005. "Asset price declines and real estate market illiquidity: evidence from Japanese land values," Working Paper Series 2004-16, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. David L. Kelly & Stephen F. LeRoy, 2005. "Liquidity and fire sales," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 249-270.

    More about this item


    Liquidity; Liquidation;

    JEL classification:

    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates


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