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Bailouts, Time Inconsistency, and Optimal Regulation

  • V.V. Chari
  • Patrick J. Kehoe

We develop a model in which, in order to provide managerial incentives, it is optimal to have costly bankruptcy. If benevolent governments can commit to their policies, it is optimal not to interfere with private contracts. Such policies are time inconsistent in the sense that, without commitment, governments have incentives to bail out firms by buying up the debt of distressed firms and renegotiating their contracts with managers. From an ex ante perspective, however, such bailouts are costly because they worsen incentives and thereby reduce welfare. We show that regulation in the form of limits on the debt-to-value ratio of firms mitigates the time-inconsistency problem by eliminating the incentives of governments to undertake bailouts. In terms of the cyclical properties of regulation, we show that regulation should be tightest in aggregate states in which resources lost to bankruptcy in the equilibrium without a government are largest.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19192.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19192
Note: EFG IFM ME PE POL
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  1. Emmanuel Farhi & Jean Tirole, 2012. "Collective Moral Hazard, Maturity Mismatch, and Systemic Bailouts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 60-93, February.
  2. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, Ivan, 1989. "Optimal Auditing, Insurance, and Redistribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 399-415, May.
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  8. Tsyvinski, Aleh & Golosov, Mikhail & Farhi, Emmanuel, 2009. "A Theory of Liquidity and Regulation of Financial Intermediation," Scholarly Articles 4481504, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  10. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "The First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1357-67, November.
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  12. Gertler, Mark & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Queralto, Albert, 2012. "Financial crises, bank risk exposure and government financial policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(S), pages S17-S34.
  13. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
  14. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1988. "Servicing the Public Debt: The Role of Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 647-61, September.
  15. Enrique Mendoza & Javier Bianchi, 2010. "Overborrowing, financial crises and ‘macro-prudential’ taxes," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Oct.
  16. Todd Keister, 2010. "Bailouts and financial fragility," Staff Reports 473, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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