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Self-Fulfilling Credit Cycles

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  • Costas Azariadis
  • Leo Kaas
  • Yi Wen

Abstract

In U.S. data 1981?2012, unsecured firm credit moves procyclically and tends to lead GDP, while secured firm credit is acyclical; similarly, shocks to unsecured firm credit explain a far larger fraction of output fluctuations than shocks to secured credit. In this paper we develop a tractable dynamic general equilibrium model in which unsecured firm credit arises from self-enforcing borrowing constraints, preventing an efficient capital allocation among heterogeneous firms. Unsecured credit rests on the value that borrowers attach to a good credit reputation which is a forward-looking variable. We argue that self-fulfilling beliefs over future credit conditions naturally generate endogenously persistent business cycle dynamics. A dynamic complementarity between current and future borrowing limits permits uncorrelated sunspot shocks to unsecured debt to trigger persistent aggregate fluctuations in both secured and unsecured debt, factor productivity and output. We show that these sunspot shocks are quantitatively important, accounting for around half of output volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • Costas Azariadis & Leo Kaas & Yi Wen, 2015. "Self-Fulfilling Credit Cycles," Working Papers 2015-5, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2015-005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unsecured firm credit; Credit cycles; Sunspots;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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