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Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt

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  • Christian Hellwig
  • Guido Lorenzoni

Abstract

We characterize equilibria with endogenous debt constraints for a general equilibrium economy with limited commitment in which the only consequence of default is losing the ability to borrow in future periods. First, we show that equilibrium debt limits must satisfy a simple condition that allows agents to exactly roll over existing debt period by period. Second, we provide an equivalence result, whereby the resulting set of equilibrium allocations with self-enforcing private debt is equivalent to the allocations that are sustained with unbacked public debt or rational bubbles; for the latter, there exist well known existence and characterization results. In contrast to the classic result by Bulow and Rogoff (AER 1989), positive levels of debt are sustainable in our environment because the interest rate is sufficiently low to provide repayment incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2006. "Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt," NBER Working Papers 12614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12614
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    JEL classification:

    • D50 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - General
    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets
    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)

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