Paper # Author Title
Sovereign bonds are highly divisible, usually of uncertain quality, and auctioned in large lots to a large number of investors. This leads us to assume that no individual bidder can affect the bond price, and to develop a tractable Walrasian theory of Treasury auctions in which investors are asymmetrically informed about the quality of the bond. We characterize the price of the bond for different degrees of asymmetric information, both under discriminatory-price (DP) and uniform-price (UP) protocols. We endogenize information acquisition and show that DP protocols are likely to induce multiple equilibria, one of which features asymmetric information, while UP protocols are unlikely to sustain equilibria with asymmetric information. This result has welfare implications: asymmetric information negatively affects the level, dispersion and volatility of sovereign bond prices, particularly in DP protocols. Download Paper
To end a financial crisis, the central bank is to lend freely, against good collateral, at a high rate, according to Bagehot’s Rule. We argue that in theory and in practice there is a missing ingredient to Bagehot’s Rule: secrecy. Re-creating confidence requires that the central bank lend in secret, hiding the identities of the borrowers, to prevent information about individual collateral from being produced and to create an information externality by raising the perceived value of average collateral. Ironically, the participation of "bad" borrowers, with low quality collateral, in the central bank’s lending program is a desirable part of re-creating confidence because it creates stigma. Stigma is critical to sustain secrecy because no borrower wants to reveal his participation in the lending program, and it is limited by the central bank charging a high rate for its loans. Download Paper
We show that political booms, measured by the rise in governments’ popularity, predict financial crises above and beyond other better-known early warning indicators, such as credit booms. This predictive power, however, only holds in emerging economies. We show that governments in emerging economies are more concerned about their reputation and tend to ride the short-term popularity benefits of weak credit booms rather than implementing politically costly corrective policies that would help prevent potential crises. We provide evidence of the relevance of this reputation mechanism. Download Paper
Banks are optimally opaque institutions. They produce debt for use as a transaction medium (bank money), which requires that information about the backing assets – loans – not be revealed, so that bank money does not fluctuate in value, reducing the efficiency of trade. This need for opacity conflicts with the production of information about investment projects, needed for allocative efficiency. Intermediaries exist to hide such information, so banks select portfolios of information-insensitive assets. For the economy as a whole, firms endogenously separate into bank finance and capital market/stock market finance depending on the cost of producing information about their projects. Download Paper
Credit booms usually precede financial crises. However, some credit booms end in a crisis (bad booms) and other booms do not (good booms). We document that, while all booms start with an increase in the growth of Total Factor Productivity (TFP), such growth falls much faster subsequently for bad booms. We then develop a simple framework to explain this. Firms finance investment opportunities with short-term collateralized debt. If agents do not produce information about the collateral quality, a credit boom develops, accommodating firms with lower quality projects and increasing the incentives of lenders to acquire information about the collateral, eventually triggering a crisis. When the quality of investment opportunities also grow, the credit boom may not end in a crisis because there is a gradual adoption of low quality projects, but those projects are also of better quality, not inducing information about collateral. Download Paper