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Financial Innovation, the Discovery of Risk, and the U.S. Credit Crisis

  • Boz, Emine
  • Mendoza, Enrique G

Uncertainty about the riskiness of a new financial environment was an important factor behind the U.S. credit crisis. We show that a boom-bust cycle in debt, asset prices and consumption characterizes the equilibrium dynamics of a model with a collateral constraint in which agents learn "by observation" the true riskiness of the new environment. Early realizations of states with high ability to leverage assets into debt turn agents overly optimistic about the probability of persistence of a high-leverage regime. Conversely, the first realization of the low-leverage state turns agents unduly pessimistic about future credit prospects. These effects interact with the Fisherian deflation mechanism, resulting in changes in debt, leverage, and asset prices larger than predicted under either rational expectations without learning or with learning but without Fisherian de°ation. The model can account for 69 percent of the rise in net household debt and 53 percent of the rise in residential land prices between 1997 and 2006, and it predicts a sharp collapse in 2007.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7967.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7967
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  1. Andrea Ferrero, 2012. "House price booms, current account deficits, and low interest rates," Staff Reports 541, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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  14. Enrique G. Mendoza & Vincenzo Quadrini & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2009. "Financial Integration, Financial Development, and Global Imbalances," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(3), pages 371-416, 06.
  15. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2008. "Anticipated Utility And Rational Expectations As Approximations Of Bayesian Decision Making," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 185-221, 02.
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  17. Jermann, Urban & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2006. "Financial Innovations and Macroeconomic Volatility," CEPR Discussion Papers 5727, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  26. Enrique G. Mendoza, 2010. "Sudden Stops, Financial Crises, and Leverage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1941-66, December.
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