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Pricing systemic crises: monetary and fiscal policy when savers are uncertain

  • Andreas Lehnert
  • Wayne Passmore

The return on assets depends on the joint behavior of all savers; if all sell the asset simultaneously, then there will be a financial "Armageddon." We assume that risk-neutral savers' information about aggregate investment is too vague to form precise probability estimates, so they have Knightian uncertainty, and thus act to maximize their minimum payoff. Savers invest in a risky asset (economy-wide production) and in a riskless asset (government bonds). In times of high uncertainty, savers hold too many government bonds, lowering output. A monetary policy of lowering the risk-free rate causes savers to save less in total but to invest more in the risky asset, and the policy is shown to be Pareto-improving; but the policy is unable to recapture the optimal allocations. To restore investment and total savings to their optimal levels, the government must also use a fiscal policy of distortionary taxes to discourage current consumption and leisure.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 1999-33.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1999-33
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  1. Peter F. Christoffersen & Francis X. Diebold & Til Schuermann, 1998. "Horizon problems and extreme events in financial risk management," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Oct, pages 109-118.
  2. Roger Lagunoff & Stacey L. Schreft, 1999. "Financial fragility with rational and irrational exuberance," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 531-567.
  3. Dow, James & da Costa Werlang, Sergio Ribeiro, 1992. "Excess volatility of stock prices and Knightian uncertainty," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 631-638, April.
  4. Roger D. Lagunoff & Stacey L. Schreft, 1998. "A model of financial fragility," Research Working Paper 98-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  5. Epstein Larry G. & Wang Tan, 1995. "Uncertainty, Risk-Neutral Measures and Security Price Booms and Crashes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 40-82, October.
  6. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
  7. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1998. "Financial Contagion," Working Papers 98-33, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  9. Wakker, Peter, 1989. "Continuous subjective expected utility with non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-27, February.
  10. Dow James & Werlang Sergio Ribeiro Da Costa, 1994. "Nash Equilibrium under Knightian Uncertainty: Breaking Down Backward Induction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 305-324, December.
  11. Gilboa Itzhak & Schmeidler David, 1993. "Updating Ambiguous Beliefs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 33-49, February.
  12. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  13. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
  14. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
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