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Incomplete Markets, Transitory Shocks, and Welfare


  • Felix Kubler
  • Karl Schmedders


While equilibrium allocations in models with incomplete markets are generally not Pareto-efficient, it is often argued that quantitative welfare losses from missing assets are small when time-horizons are long and shocks are transitory. In this paper we use a computational analyses to show that even in the simplest infinite horizon model without aggregate uncertainty welfare losses can be substantial. Furthermore, we show that in this model, welfare losses form incomplete markets to not necessarily disappear when agents become more patient. We identify two scenarios under which this is the case. First, when the economic model is calibrated to higher frequency data, the persistence of negative income shocks must increase as well. In this case, the welfare loss of incomplete markets remains constant even as agents' rate of time preference B>1. Secondly, for a fixed specification of endowment processes, an exogenous decrease of agents' rate of discounting should not affect their abilities to borrow. With exogenous borrowing constraints, the incomplete markets welfare does not converge to complete markets welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Felix Kubler & Karl Schmedders, 2000. "Incomplete Markets, Transitory Shocks, and Welfare," Discussion Papers 1285, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1285

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Akyol, Ahmet & Athreya, Kartik, 2005. "Risky higher education and subsidies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 979-1023, June.
    2. Juan-Carlos Cordoba, 2004. "Debt-Constraints or Incomplete Markets? A Decomposition of the Wealth and Consumption Inequality in the U.S," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 335, Econometric Society.
    3. Tom Krebs & Pravin Krishna & William Maloney, 2013. "Income Mobility and Welfare," IMF Working Papers 13/24, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Kim, Jinill & Kim, Sunghyun Henry & Levin, Andrew, 2003. "Patience, persistence, and welfare costs of incomplete markets in open economies," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 385-396, December.
    5. Krebs, Tom & Krishna, Pravin & Maloney, William F., 2012. "Income Risk, Income Mobility and Welfare," IZA Discussion Papers 7056, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L., 2008. "Insurance and opportunities: A welfare analysis of labor market risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 501-525, April.
    7. Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2006. "Precautionary Savings or Working Longer Hours?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 326-352, April.
    8. Chiaki Hara & James Huang & Christoph Kuzmics, 2006. "Efficient Risk-Sharing Rules with Heterogeneous Risk Attitudes and Background Risks," KIER Working Papers 621, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    9. Lee, Khang Min & Moyen, Nathalie, 2006. "Optimal liberalization of financial markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(8), pages 1319-1335, December.
    10. David K. Levine & William R. Zame, 2002. "Does Market Incompleteness Matter?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1805-1839, September.
    11. Piero Gottardi & Felix Kubler, 2015. "Dynamic Competitive Economies with Complete Markets and Collateral Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1119-1153.
    12. Henry Kim & Jinill Kim & Robert Kollmann, 2005. "Applying Perturbation Methods to Incomplete Market Models with Exogenous Borrowing Constraints," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0504, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    13. Giorgio Primiceri & Thijs van Rens, 2002. "Inequality over the business cycle: Estimating income risk using micro-data on consumption," Economics Working Papers 943, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2004.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General

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