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Fire Sales in Finance and Macroeconomics

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  • Andrei Shleifer
  • Robert W. Vishny

Abstract

Fire sales are forced sales of assets in which high-valuation bidders are sidelined, typically due to debt overhang problems afflicting many specialist bidders simultaneously. We overview theoretical and empirical research on asset fire sales, which shows how they can arise, how they can lead to asset under-valuations, how contracts and bankruptcy regimes adjust to the risk of fire sales, how fire sales can lead to downward spirals or cascades in asset prices, how arbitrage fails in the presence of fire sales, and how fire sales can reduce productive investment. We conclude by showing how asset fire sales shed light on several aspects of the recent financial crisis, and can account for the success of the liquidity provision and asset purchase policies of the Federal Reserve.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 2010. "Fire Sales in Finance and Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 16642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16642
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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