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Incomplete Markets, Transitory Shocks And Welfare


  • Felix Kubler

    (Stanford University)

  • Karl Schmedders

    (Northwestern University)


Equilibrium allocations in models with incomplete markets are generally not Pareto-efficient, but some argue that the welfare losses from missing assets are small when time-horizons are long, agents are patient, and shocks are transitory. We show that even in the simplest infinite horizon model without aggregate uncertainty welfare losses can be substantial and do not disappear when agents become more patient. Our argument has two parts. First, we argue that in dynamic models the persistence of income shocks should increase when the length of a period in the model decreases. This is necessary to maintain realistic properties for the serial correlation in annual income. We show computationally that in this case, the welfare losses from incomplete markets remain constant even as we reduce the model period. Second, we reexamine the analysis in Levine and Zame (1999). They claim that the incomplete market welfare converges to the complete market welfare as the discount factor converges to one. We show that this critically relies on their implicit assumptions regarding debt constraints, and that there is no convergence with more realistic debt constraint assumptions.

Suggested Citation

  • Felix Kubler & Karl Schmedders, 2000. "Incomplete Markets, Transitory Shocks And Welfare," Computing in Economics and Finance 2000 130, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf0:130

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Constantinides, George M & Duffie, Darrell, 1996. "Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 219-240, April.
    2. Den Haan, Wouter J., 2001. "The importance of the number of different agents in a heterogeneous asset-pricing model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 721-746, May.
    3. Michael Magill & Martine Quinzii, 2000. "Infinite horizon CAPM equilibrium," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 15(1), pages 103-138.
    4. Magill, Michael & Quinzii, Martine, 1994. "Infinite Horizon Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 853-880, July.
    5. David K. Levine & William R. Zame, 2002. "Does Market Incompleteness Matter?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1805-1839, September.
    6. Levine, David K. & Zame, William R., 1996. "Debt constraints and equilibrium in infinite horizon economies with incomplete markets," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 103-131.
    7. David K Levine & William R Zame, 2000. "Risk Sharing and Market Incompleteness," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2080, David K. Levine.
    8. Abreu, Dilip & Milgrom, Paul & Pearce, David, 1991. "Information and Timing in Repeated Partnerships," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1713-1733, November.
    9. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    10. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
    11. Kubler, Felix & Schmedders, Karl, 2002. "Recursive Equilibria In Economies With Incomplete Markets," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 284-306, April.
    12. Judd, Kenneth L. & Kubler, Felix & Schmedders, Karl, 2000. "Computing equilibria in infinite-horizon finance economies: The case of one asset," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 24(5-7), pages 1047-1078, June.
    13. van Wincoop, Eric, 1999. "How big are potential welfare gains from international risksharing?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 109-135, February.
    14. Manuel Santos, 1998. "Numerical Solution of Dynamic Economic Models," Working Papers 9804, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    15. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah J, 1996. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 443-487, June.
    16. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-1445, November.
    17. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
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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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