Bailouts, Time Inconsistency, and Optimal Regulation

50 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2013

See all articles by Varadarajan V. Chari

Varadarajan V. Chari

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics; Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Patrick J. Kehoe

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - Research Department; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2013

Abstract

We develop a model in which, in order to provide managerial incentives, it is optimal to have costly bankruptcy. If benevolent governments can commit to their policies, it is optimal not to interfere with private contracts. Such policies are time inconsistent in the sense that, without commitment, governments have incentives to bail out firms by buying up the debt of distressed firms and renegotiating their contracts with managers. From an ex ante perspective, however, such bailouts are costly because they worsen incentives and thereby reduce welfare. We show that regulation in the form of limits on the debt-to-value ratio of firms mitigates the time-inconsistency problem by eliminating the incentives of governments to undertake bailouts. In terms of the cyclical properties of regulation, we show that regulation should be tightest in aggregate states in which resources lost to bankruptcy in the equilibrium without a government are largest.

Suggested Citation

Chari, Varadarajan V. and Kehoe, Patrick J., Bailouts, Time Inconsistency, and Optimal Regulation (June 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19192. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2287050

Varadarajan V. Chari (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )

271 19th Avenue South
1108 Management & Economics
Minneapolis, MN 55455
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612-626-7151 (Phone)

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis ( email )

90 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55480
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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Patrick J. Kehoe

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - Research Department ( email )

90 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55480
United States
612-204-5525 (Phone)
612-204-5515 (Fax)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )

271 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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