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Monitoring Leverage




We discuss how leverage can be monitored for institutions, individuals, and assets. While traditionally the interest rate has been regarded as the important feature of a loan, we argue that leverage is sometimes even more important. Monitoring leverage provides information about how risk builds up during booms as leverage rises and how crises start when leverage on new loans sharply declines. Leverage data is also a crucial input for crisis management and lending facilities. Leverage at the asset level can be monitored by down payments or margin requirement or and haircuts, giving a model-free measure that can be observed directly, in contrast to other measures of systemic risk that require complex estimation. Asset leverage is a fundamental measure of systemic risk and so is important in itself, but it is also the building block out of which measures of institutional leverage and household leverage can be most accurately and informatively constructed.

Suggested Citation

  • John Geanakoplos & Lasse H. Pedersen, 2011. "Monitoring Leverage," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1838, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1838

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    Other versions of this item:

    • John Geanakoplos & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2012. "Monitoring Leverage," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Topography: Systemic Risk and Macro Modeling, pages 113-127 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrea Frazzini & Lasse H. Pedersen, 2012. "Embedded Leverage," NBER Working Papers 18558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Frazzini, Andrea & Pedersen, Lasse Heje, 2014. "Betting against beta," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 1-25.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Leverage and Risk
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2016-05-02 17:18:50

    More about this item


    Leverage; Loan to value; Margins; Haircuts; Monitor; Regulate; Leverage on new loans; Asset leverage; Investor leverage;

    JEL classification:

    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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