NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt

Christian Hellwig, Guido Lorenzoni

NBER Working Paper No. 12614
Issued in October 2006
NBER Program(s):   AP   EFG   IFM

We characterize equilibria with endogenous debt constraints for a general equilibrium economy with limited commitment in which the only consequence of default is losing the ability to borrow in future periods. First, we show that equilibrium debt limits must satisfy a simple condition that allows agents to exactly roll over existing debt period by period. Second, we provide an equivalence result, whereby the resulting set of equilibrium allocations with self-enforcing private debt is equivalent to the allocations that are sustained with unbacked public debt or rational bubbles; for the latter, there exist well known existence and characterization results. In contrast to the classic result by Bulow and Rogoff (AER 1989), positive levels of debt are sustainable in our environment because the interest rate is sufficiently low to provide repayment incentives.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12614

Published: Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2009. "Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1137-1164, 07. citation courtesy of

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