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Safety Traps

  • Kenza Benhima
  • Baptiste Massenot

Fear of risk provides a rationale for protracted economic downturns. We develop a real business cycle model where investors with decreasing relative risk aversion choose between a risky and a safe technology that exhibit decreasing returns. Because of a feedback effect from the interest rate to risk aversion, two equilibria can emerge: a standard equilibrium and a "safe" one in which investors invest in safer assets. We refer to the dynamics of this second equilibrium as a safety trap because it is self-reinforcing as investors accumulate more wealth and show it to be consistent with Japan's lost decade.

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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 12.04.

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Length: 41 pp. + figures and table
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:12.04
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne

Phone: ++41 21 692.33.20
Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/series
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  1. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
  2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap, 2006. "Zombie Lending and Depressed Restructuring in Japan," NBER Working Papers 12129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Andrew B. Abel, . "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation and Catching Up With the Jones," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 01-90, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  4. Benhima Kenza, 2010. "A Reappraisal of the Allocation Puzzle through the Portfolio Approach," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 10.11, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, revised May 2012.
  5. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2009. "Fight or Flight? Portfolio Rebalancing by Individual Investors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 301-348.
  6. Aart Kraay & Norman Loayza & Luis Servén & Jaume Ventura, 2000. "Country portfolios," Economics Working Papers 913, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
  8. Kenza Benhima & Baptiste Massenot, 2013. "Safety Traps," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 68-106, October.
  9. Bryan S. Graham & Jonathan R. W. Temple, 2004. "Rich nations, poor nations: how much can multiple equilibria explain?," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp017, IIIS.
  10. Paul R. Krugman, 1998. "It's Baaack: Japan's Slump and the Return of the Liquidity Trap," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 137-206.
  11. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2000. "The 1990s in Japan: a lost decade," Working Papers 607, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Michele Boldrin & Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 1999. "Habit persistence, asset returns and the business cycles," Working Paper Series WP-99-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Data Appendix to The 1990s in Japan: A Lost Decade," Technical Appendices hayashi02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  14. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-88, May.
  15. Peter Howitt & R. Preston McAfee, 1988. "Stability of Equilibria with Externalities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(2), pages 261-277.
  16. Angeletos, George-Marios & Panousi, Vasia, 2009. "Revisiting the supply side effects of government spending," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 137-153, March.
  17. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1997. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds, and The Real Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 663-691.
  18. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-69, July.
  19. Holmstrom, B & Tirole, J, 1996. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Working papers 96-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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