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Debt Contracts, Collapse and Regulation as Competition Phenomena

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  • Gersbach, Hans
  • Uhlig, Harald

Abstract

This paper studies a credit market with adverse selection and moral hazard where sufficient sorting is impossible. The crucial novel feature is the competition between lenders in their choice of contracts offered. The quality of investment projects is unobservable by banks and entrepreneurs’ investment decisions are not contractible, but output conditional on investment is. The paper explains the empirically observed prevalence of debt contracts as an equilibrium phenomenon with competing lenders. Equilibrium contracts must be immune against raisin-picking by competitors. Non-debt contracts allow competitors to offer sweet deals to particularly good debtors, who will self-select to choose such a deal, while bad debtors distribute themselves across all offered contracts. Competition between banks introduces three possibilities for a breakdown of credit markets which do not occur when a bank has a monopoly. First, average returns decrease since banks compete for good lenders, which may make lending altogether unprofitable. Second, banks can have an incentive to offer a debt contract and additional equity contracts to intermediate debtors, which is in turn dominated by a simple debt contract, only attractive for very good entrepreneurs. As a result, no equilibrium in pure strategies exists. Existence can be restored in this scenario if the permissible types of contracts are limited by regulation resembling the separation of investment and commercial banking in the United States. Finally, allowing for random delivery on credit contracts leads to a breakdown since all banks seek to avoid the contract with the highest chance of delivery: that contract attracts all bad entrepreneurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Gersbach, Hans & Uhlig, Harald, 1997. "Debt Contracts, Collapse and Regulation as Competition Phenomena," CEPR Discussion Papers 1742, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1742
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Boyd, John H & Smith, Bruce D, 1993. "The Equilibrium Allocation of Investment Capital in the Presence of Adverse Selection and Costly State Verification," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 3(3), pages 427-451, July.
    2. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 473-494.
    3. Erik Berglöf & Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, 1994. "Short-Term versus Long-Term Interests: Capital Structure with Multiple Investors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1055-1084.
    4. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
    5. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1994. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 841-879.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans Gersbach, 2002. "Financial Intermediation and the Creation of Macroeconomic Risks," CESifo Working Paper Series 695, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Lee Ohanian, 2000. "EconomicDynamics Interviews Lee Ohanian on the Great Depression," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(2), April.
    3. Gersbach, Hans & Uhlig, Harald, 2006. "Debt contracts and collapse as competition phenomena," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 556-574, October.
    4. Harald Uhlig, 2001. "EconomicDynamics Interviews Harald Uhlig on Dynamic Contracts," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(2), April.
    5. Hans Gersbach & Jan Wenzelburger, 2001. "The Dynamics of Deposit Insurance and the Consumption Trap," CESifo Working Paper Series 509, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Adverse Selection; Competition; Contract; debt contract; financial collapse; Moral Hazard; Regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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