Why Rent When You Can Buy? A Theory of Repurchase Agreements
In a model with matching frictions, we provide conditions under which repurchase agreements (or repos) co-exist with asset sales. In a repo, the seller agrees to repurchase the asset at a later date at the agreed price. Absent bilateral trading frictions, repos have no role despite uncertainty about future valuations. Introducing pairwise meetings, we show that agents prefer to sell (or buy) assets whenever they face little uncertainty regarding the future use of the asset. As agents become more uncertain of the value of holding the asset, repos become more prevalent. We show that while the total volume of repos is always increasing with the uncertainty, the total sales volume is hump-shaped. In other words, pairwise matching alone is sufficient to explain why repo markets exist and there is no need to introduce random matching, search frictions, information asymmetries or other market frictions.
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