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Leverage and asset prices: an experiment

  • Marco Cipriani
  • Ana Fostel
  • Daniel Houser

This is the first paper to test the asset pricing implication of leverage in a laboratory. We show that as theory predicts, leverage increases asset prices: When an asset can be used as collateral (that is, when the asset can be bought on margin), its price goes up. This increase is significant, and quantitatively close to what theory predicts. However, important deviations from the theory arise in the laboratory. First, the demand for the asset shifts when it can be used as a collateral, even though agents do not exhaust their purchasing power when collateralized borrowing is not allowed. Second, the spread between collateralizable and noncollateralizable assets does not increase during crises, in contrast to what theory predicts.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 548.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:548
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  1. John Geanakoplos & Ana Fostel, 2008. "Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1211-44, September.
  2. Plott, Charles R & Sunder, Shyam, 1982. "Efficiency of Experimental Security Markets with Insider Information: An Application of Rational-Expectations Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 663-98, August.
  3. Lasse Heje Pederson & Markus K Brunnermeier, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," FMG Discussion Papers dp580, Financial Markets Group.
  4. Fostel, Ana & Geanakoplos, John, 2012. "Why does bad news increase volatility and decrease leverage?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 501-525.
  5. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  6. Nicolae G�rleanu & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2011. "Margin-based Asset Pricing and Deviations from the Law of One Price," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(6), pages 1980-2022.
  7. Vernon L. Smith, 1962. "An Experimental Study of Competitive Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 111.
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