A theory of money needs a proper place for financial intermediaries. Intermediaries create money by taking deposits from savers and investing them in productive projects. The money multiplier depends on the size of intermediary balance sheets, and their ability to take risks. In downturns, as lending contracts and the money multiplier shrinks, the value of money rises. This leads to a Fisher deflation that hurts borrowers and amplifies shocks. An accommodative monetary policy in downturns, focused on the assets held by constrained agents, can mitigate these destabilizing adverse feedback effects. We devote particular attention to interest rate cuts, and study the potential for such policies to create moral hazard.
Is credit expansion a sign of desirable financial deepening or the prelude to an inevitable bust? We study this question in modern US data using a structural VAR model of 10 monthly-frequency variables, identified by heteroskedasticity. Negative reduced-form responses of output to credit growth are caused by endogenous monetary policy response to credit expansion shocks. On average, credit and output growth remain positively associated. “Financial stress” shocks to credit spreads cause declines in output and credit levels. Neither credit aggregates nor spreads provide much advance warning of the 2008-9 crisis, but spreads improve within-crisis forecasts.
This paper puts forward a manual for how to set up and solve a continuous time model that allows to analyze endogenous (1) level and risk dynamics. The latter includes (2) tail risk and crisis probability as well as (3) the Volatility Paradox. Concepts such as (4) illiquidity and liquidity mismatch, (5) endogenous leverage, (6) the Paradox of Prudence, (7) undercapitalized sectors (8) time-varying risk premia, and (9) the external funding premium are part of the analysis. Financial frictions also give rise to an endogenous (10) value of money.
This paper reviews some of the most prominent asset price bubbles from the past 400 years and documents how central banks (or other institutions) reacted to those bubbles. The historical evidence suggests that the emergence of bubbles is often preceded or accompanied by an expansionary monetary policy, lending booms, capital inflows, and financial innovation or deregulation. We find that the severity of the economic crisis following the bursting of a bubble is less linked to the type of asset than to the financing of the bubble – crises are most severe when they are accompanied by a lending boom, high leverage of market players, and when financial institutions themselves are participating in the buying frenzy. Past experience also suggests that a purely passive “cleaning up the mess” stance towards inflating bubbles in many cases is costly. At the same time, while interest-rate leaning policies and macroprudential tools can and sometimes have helped to deflate bubbles and mitigate the associated economic crises, the correct implementation of such proactive policy approaches remains fraught with difficulties.
This paper studies the full equilibrium dynamics of an economy with financial frictions. Due to highly nonlinear amplification effects, the economy is prone to instability and occasionally enters volatile crisis episodes. Endogenous risk, driven by asset illiquidity, persists in crisis even for very low levels of exogenous risk. This phenomenon, which we call the volatility paradox, resolves the Kocherlakota (2000) critique. Endogenous leverage determines the distance to crisis. Securitization and derivatives contracts that improve risk sharing may lead to higher leverage and more frequent crises.
Liquidity and deflationary spirals self-generate endogenous risk and redistribute wealth. Monetary policy can mitigate these effects and help rebalance wealth after an adverse shock, thereby reducing endogenous risk, stabilizing the economy, and stimulating growth. The redistributive channel differs from the classic Keynesian interest rate channel in models with price stickiness. Central banks assume and redistribute tail risk when purchasing assets or relaxing their collateral requirements. Monetary policy (rules) can be seen as a social insurance scheme for an economy beset by financial frictions. As with any insurance, it carries the cost of moral hazard. Redistributive monetary policy should be strictly limited to undoing the redistribution caused by the amplification effects and by moral hazard considerations.
This article surveys the macroeconomic implications of financial frictions. Financial frictions lead to persistence and when combined with illiquidity to non-linear amplification eects. Risk is endogenous and liquidity spirals cause financial instability. Increasing margins further restrict leverage and exacerbate the downturn. A demand for liquid assets and a role for money emerges. The market outcome is generically not even constrained ecient and the issuance of government debt can lead to a Pareto improvement. While financial institutions can mitigate frictions, they introduce additional fragility and through their erratic money creation harm price stability.
Brunnermeier, Markus K, Gary Gorton, and Arvind Krishnamurthy. “Risk Topography”. NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2011 26 (2012): , 26, 149-176. Print.Abstract
The aim of this paper is to conceptualize and design a risk topography that outlines a data acquisition and dissemination process that informs policymakers, researchers and market participants about systemic risk. Our approach emphasizes that systemic risk (i) cannot be detected based on measuring cash instruments, e.g., balance sheet items or ratios such as leverage and income statement items; (ii) typically builds up in the background before materializing in a crisis; and (iii), is determined by market participants’ endogenous response to various shocks. Our measurement system asks that regulators elicit from market participants their (partial equilibrium) risk as well as liquidity sensitivities (our response indicator) with respect to major risk factors and liquidity scenarios. General equilibrium responses and economy-wide system effects can be calibrated using this panel data set.
We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to investigate how households' portfolio allocations change in response to wealth fluctuations. Persistent habits, consumption commitments, and subsistence levels can generate time-varying risk aversion with the consequence that when the level of liquid wealth changes, the proportion a household invests in risky assets should also change in the same direction. In contrast, our analysis shows that the share of liquid assets that households invest in risky assets is not affected by wealth changes. Instead, one of the major drivers of household portfolio allocation seems to be inertia: households rebalance only very slowly following inflows and outflows or capital gains and losses.