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Is Private Leverage Excessive?

I examine whether a benevolent government can improve on the free market allocation by setting capital requirements for private borrowers in a stochastic model with collateral constraints. Previous theoretical studies have found that when asset prices enter into bor- rowing constraints, pecuniary externalities between atomistic agents can make the laissez faire equilibrium constrained ine¢ cient. For reasonable parameter values, I find that, quan- titatively, the answer is 'no', private and government leverage choices coincide. Limiting private leverage by imposing capital requirements has the beneficial e¤ect of dampening the effects of the collateral amplification mechanism. This reduces fire sales in recessions and limits the negative externality that individual asset sales have on other credit constrained borrowers. However, we find that capital requirements are a blunt tool. They tax the activities of highly productive entrepreneurs and reduce the amount they produce in equilibrium. This reduces total factor productivity and steady state consumption. In the end, society faces a choice between high but unstable consumption in the free borrowing world and low but stable consumption in the regulated world. The government chooses the former.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 28407.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision: Jun 2010
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28407
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  1. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & John Moore, 1995. "Credit Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Francisco Covas & Wouter J. Den Haan, 2012. "The Role of Debt and Equity Finance Over the Business Cycle," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(565), pages 1262-1286, December.
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  4. Jonathan Heathcote, 2003. "Housing and the Business Cycle," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-21, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  5. Tobias Adrian & Hyun Song Shin, 2008. "Liquidity and leverage," Staff Reports 328, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. Richard J. Arnott & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1983. "Moral Hazard and Optimal Commodity Taxation," NBER Working Papers 1154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  8. Javier Bianchi, 2010. "Overborrowing and Systemic Externalities in the Business Cycle," 2010 Meeting Papers 96, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Gromb, Denis & Vayanos, Dimitri, 2002. "Equilibrium and welfare in markets with financially constrained arbitrageurs," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 361-407.
  10. Edward C Prescott & Robert M Townsend, 2010. "Pareto Optima and Competitive Equilibria With Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2069, David K. Levine.
  11. Kosuke Aoki & Gianluca Benigno & Nobuhiro Kiyotaki, 2009. "Capital flows and asset prices," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 25487, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    • Kosuke Aoki & Gianluca Benigno & Nobuhiro Kiyotaki, 2009. "Capital Flows and Asset Prices," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2007, pages 175-216 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Morris A. Davis, 2010. "housing and the business cycle," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Palgrave Macmillan.
  13. Guido Lorenzoni, 2007. "Inefficient Credit Booms," NBER Working Papers 13639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bianchi, Javier, 2009. "Overborrowing and Systemic Externalities in the Business Cycle," MPRA Paper 15114, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Bianchi, Javier, 2009. "Overborrowing and Systemic Externalities in the Business Cycle," MPRA Paper 16270, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. den Haan, Wouter J & Marcet, Albert, 1990. "Solving the Stochastic Growth Model by Parameterizing Expectations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 31-34, January.
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