NBER Working Papers by Pablo D'Erasmo

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Working Papers

June 2017Reorganization or Liquidation: Bankruptcy Choice and Firm Dynamics
with Dean Corbae: w23515
In this paper, we ask how bankruptcy law affects the financial decisions of corporations and its implications for firm dynamics. According to current U.S. law, firms have two bankruptcy options: Chapter 7 liquidation and Chapter 11 reorganization. Using Compustat data, we first document capital structure and investment decisions of non-bankrupt, Chapter 11, and Chapter 7 firms. Using those data moments, we then estimate parameters of a firm dynamics model with endogenous entry and exit to include both bankruptcy options in a general equilibrium environment. Finally, we evaluate a bankruptcy policy change recommended by the American Bankruptcy Institute that amounts to a “fresh start” for bankrupt firms. We find that changes to the law can have sizable consequences for borrowing costs and c...
August 2016Optimal Domestic (and External) Sovereign Default
with Enrique G. Mendoza: w22509
Infrequent but turbulent episodes of outright sovereign default on domestic creditors are considered a “forgotten history” in Macroeconomics. We propose a heterogeneous-agents model in which optimal debt and default on domestic and foreign creditors are driven by distributional incentives and endogenous default costs due to the value of debt for self-insurance, liquidity and risk-sharing. The government's aim to redistribute resources across agents and through time in response to uninsurable shocks produces a rich dynamic feedback mechanism linking debt issuance, the distribution of government bond holdings, the default decision, and risk premia. Calibrated to Spanish data, the model is consistent with key cyclical co-movements and features of debt-crisis dynamics. Debt exhibits protracted...
September 2015What is a Sustainable Public Debt?
with Enrique G. Mendoza, Jing Zhang: w21574
The question of what is a sustainable public debt is paramount in the macroeconomic analysis of fiscal policy. This question is usually posed as asking whether the outstanding public debt and its projected path are consistent with those of the government's revenues and expenditures (i.e. whether fiscal solvency conditions hold). We identify critical flaws in the traditional approach to evaluate debt sustainability, and examine three alternative approaches that provide useful econometric and model-simulation tools to analyze debt sustainability. The first approach is Bohn's non-structural empirical framework based on a fiscal reaction function that characterizes the dynamics of sustainable debt and primary balances. The second is a structural approach based on a calibrated dynamic general e...
September 2013Distributional Incentives in an Equilibrium Model of Domestic Sovereign Default
with Enrique G. Mendoza: w19477
Europe’s debt crisis resembles historical episodes of outright default on domestic public debt about which little research exists. This paper proposes a theory of domestic sovereign default based on distributional incentives affecting the welfare of risk-averse debt- and non-debt holders. A utilitarian government cannot sustain debt if default is costless. If default is costly, debt with default risk is sustainable, and debt falls as concentration of debt ownership rises. A government favoring bond holders can also sustain debt, with debt rising as ownership becomes more concentrated. These results are robust to adding foreign investors, redistributive taxes, or a second asset.


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