IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A Critique of the Literature on the US Financial Debt Crisis


  • Jerome L. Stein


A healthy financial system encourages the efficient allocation of capital and risk. The collapse of the house price bubble led to the financial crisis that started in 2007. There is a large empirical literature concerning the relation between asset price bubbles and financial crises. I evaluate the key studies with the respect to the following questions. To what extent do the empirical relations in the existing literature help to identify asset price bubbles ex-ante or ex-post? Do the empirical studies have theoretical foundations? On the basis of that critique, I explain why the application of stochastic optimal control (SOC)/dynamic risk management is a much more effective approach to determine the optimal degree of leverage, the optimum and excessive risk and the probability of a debt crisis. The theoretically founded early warning signals of a crisis are shown to be superior, in general, to those empirical relations in the literature. Moreover the SOC analysis provides a theoretical explanation of the extent that the empirical measures in the literature can be useful.

Suggested Citation

  • Jerome L. Stein, 2010. "A Critique of the Literature on the US Financial Debt Crisis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2924, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2924

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kristopher Gerardi & Andreas Lehnert & Shane M. Sherlund & Paul Willen, 2008. "Making Sense of the Subprime Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(2 (Fall)), pages 69-159.
    2. Stein, Jerome L., 2006. "Stochastic Optimal Control, International Finance, and Debt Crises," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199280575.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    stochastic optimal control; mortgage and financial crises; Ito equation; optimal dynamic risk management; warning signals of crisis; optimal leverage and debt ratios; Congressional Oversight Panel; Case-Shiller index;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2924. 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: (Klaus Wohlrabe). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.