A Critique of the Literature on the US Financial Debt Crisis
Jerome L. Stein
Brown University - Division of Applied Mathematics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)
January 16, 2010
A healthy financial system encourages the efficient allocation of capital and risk. The collapse of the house price bubble led to the financial crisis that started in 2007. There is a large empirical literature concerning the relation between asset price bubbles and financial crises. I evaluate the key studies with the respect to the following questions. To what extent do the empirical relations in the existing literature help to identify asset price bubbles ex-ante or ex-post? Do the empirical studies have theoretical foundations? On the basis of that critique, I explain why the application of stochastic optimal control (SOC)/dynamic risk management is a much more effective approach to determine the optimal degree of leverage, the optimum and excessive risk and the probability of a debt crisis. The theoretically founded early warning signals of a crisis are shown to be superior, in general, to those empirical relations in the literature. Moreover the SOC analysis provides a theoretical explanation of the extent that the empirical measures in the literature can be useful.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Stochastic optimal control, Mortgage and Financial Crises, Ito equation, Optimal Dynamic Risk management, Warning Signals of crisis, Optimal Leverage and Debt ratios, Congressional Oversight Panel, Case-Shiller index
JEL Classification: C61, D81, D91, D92, G1, G11, G12, G14working papers series
Date posted: January 16, 2010
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