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Debt-Ridden Equilibria - A Simple Theory of Great Depressions -

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  • KOBAYASHI Keiichiro
  • INABA Masaru (RIETI)

Abstract

The US Great Depression and Japan's lost decade in the 1990s are both characterized as persistent stagnations of economies with debt-ridden corporate sectors subsequent to asset-price collapses. We propose a simple model, in which increases in corporate debt (and/or fluctuations in expectations about the future state of the economy) can account for these episodes. Key ingredients are the assumptions that firms are subject to collateral constraint on liquidity for financing the inputs, and that the firms can hold other firms' stocks as their assets and use them as the collateral. Collateral constraint on inputs interlinks the financial market inefficiency with the factor market inefficiencies; and that the corporate stocks are used as collateral generates an externality of self-reference in stock prices and production, that is, higher stock prices loosen the collateral constraint and lead to higher efficiencies in production, which in turn justify the higher stock prices. It is shown that there exists a continuum of steady-state equilibria indexed by the amount of debt that the firms owe to the consumers: A steady state with a larger debt can be called a debt-ridden equilibrium, since it has more inefficient factor markets, produces less output, and is characterized by lower stock prices. The model provides the policy implication that debt reduction in the corporate sector at the expense of consumers (or taxpayers) may be welfare-improving when the firms are debt-ridden.

Suggested Citation

  • KOBAYASHI Keiichiro & INABA Masaru (RIETI), 2007. "Debt-Ridden Equilibria - A Simple Theory of Great Depressions -," Discussion papers 07035, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  • Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:07035
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jess Benhabib & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Avoiding Liquidity Traps," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 535-563, June.
    2. Keiichiro Kobayashi & Masaru Inaba, 2006. "Borrowing constraints and protracted recessions," Discussion papers 06011, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    3. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2007. "Business Cycle Accounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(3), pages 781-836, May.
    4. Kobayashi, Keiichiro & Nakajima, Tomoyuki & Inaba, Masaru, 2012. "Collateral Constraint And News-Driven Cycles," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(05), pages 752-776, November.
    5. Kobayashi, Keiichiro & Inaba, Masaru, 2006. "Business cycle accounting for the Japanese economy," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 418-440, December.
    6. Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "A Dual Method of Empirically Evaluating Dynamic Competitive Equilibrium Models with Market Distortions, Applied to the Great Depression & World War II," NBER Working Papers 8775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
    8. Kobayashi, Keiichiro, 2008. "Transaction Services And Asset-Price Bubbles," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 378-403, June.
    9. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott(), 2007. "Great depressions of the twentieth century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, number 2007gdott.
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