NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Dealing with Destabilizing 'Market Discipline'

Daniel Cohen, Richard Portes

NBER Working Paper No. 10533
Issued in May 2004
NBER Program(s):   IFM

If interest rates (country spreads) rise, debt can rapidly be subject to a snowball effect, which then becomes self-fulfilling with regard to the fundamentals themselves. This is a market imperfection, because we cannot be confident that the unaided market will choose the good equilibrium' over the bad equilibrium'. We see here a fundamental flaw in the process of market discipline. We propose a policy intervention to deal with this structural weakness in the mechanisms of international capital flows. This is based on a simple taxonomy that enables us to break down the origin of crises into three components: a crisis of confidence (spreads and currency crisis), a crisis of fundamentals (real growth rate), and a crisis of economic policy (primary deficit). The policy would seek to short-circuit confidence crises, partly by using IMF support to improve ex ante incentives.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10533

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