DP11678 | Divergent Reference-Dependent Risk-Attitudes and Endogenous Collateral Constraints

Publication Date

12/02/2016

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Abstract

The booms preceding financial crises typically feature high exposure to risky assets, high leverage, asset price growth and low debt margins, which are then followed by sharp de-leveraging after the crisis. We build a model that endogenously generates such heightened leverage/deleverage cycle and asset price boom/bust with three elements. First borrowers exhibit gain-loss preferences around a time-varying reference level, hence they are increasingly risk tolerant at the upper tails and this fosters debt and risky asset demand, while they are loss-averse on the lower tails, something which fosters de-leveraging. Second they are subject to occasionally binding collateral constraints and third, there is heterogeneity in risk-attitudes between borrowers and lenders. The latter implies that the debt margin varies endogenously and countercyclically to close the gap between lenders/borrowers evaluations (namely debt demand and supply). We solve the model analytically and numerically, through a global method, namely policy function iterations with endogenously Markov-switching regimes. Numerically the model matches well several moments for asset prices, returns, equity premia and Sharpe ratio, the volatility of leverage, its procyclicality and the counter-cyclicality of the debt margins.