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Optimal Debt Contracts and Moral Hazard Along the Business Cycle

  • Reichlin, Pietro
  • Siconolfi, Paolo

We analyse the Pareto optimal contracts between lenders and borrowers in a model with asymmetric information. The model is a generalization of the Rothschild-Stiglitz pure adverse selection problem to include moral hazard with limited liability contracts. Entrepreneurs with unequal ``abilities" borrow to finance alternative investment projects which differ in degree of risk and productivity. We determine the endogenous distribution of projects as functions of the amount of loanable funds, when lenders have no information about borrowers' ability and technological choices. Then, we embed these results in a general equilibrium overlapping generations economy with production and show that, for a wide set of economies, equilibria are characterized by multiple steady states and persistent endogenous cycles such that the average quality of the selected projects is high in recessions and low in booms.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2351.

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Date of creation: Jan 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2351
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  1. Reichlin, Pietro & Siconolfi, Paolo, 1997. "Adverse Selection of Investment Projects and the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 1631, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Suarez, Javier & Sussman, Oren, 1997. "Endogenous Cycles in a Stiglitz-Weiss Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1604, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  4. Bester, Helmut, 1987. "The role of collateral in credit markets with imperfect information," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 887-899, June.
  5. Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1993. "Financial Market Imperfections and Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 77-114, February.
  6. Caballero, R.J. & Hammour, M.L., 1991. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," Discussion Papers 1991_59, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  7. Boyd, J.h. & Smith, B.D., 1991. "The Equilibrium Allocation of Investment Capital in the Presence of Adverse Selection and Costly State Verification," RCER Working Papers 289, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  8. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
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