Asset Bubbles: Re-Thinking Policy for the Age of Asset Management

60 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2015

See all articles by Bradley Jones

Bradley Jones

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Date Written: February 2015


In distilling a vast literature spanning the rational — irrational divide, this paper offers reflections on why asset bubbles continue to threaten economic stability despite financial markets becoming more informationally-efficient, more complete, and more heavily influenced by sophisticated (i.e. presumably rational) institutional investors. Candidate explanations for bubble persistence — such as limits to learning, frictional limits to arbitrage, and behavioral errors — seem unsatisfactory as they are inconsistent with the aforementioned trends impacting global capital markets. In lieu of the short-term nature of the asset owner — manager relationship, and the momentum bias inherent in financial benchmarks, I argue that the business risk of asset managers acts as strong motivation for institutional herding and ‘rational bubble-riding.’ Two key policy implications follow. First, procyclicality could intensify as institutional assets under management continue to grow. Second, remedial policies should extend beyond the standard suite of macroprudential and monetary measures to include time-invariant policies targeted at the cause (not just symptom) of the problem. Prominent among these should be reforms addressing principal-agent contract design and the implementation of financial benchmarks.

Keywords: Asset bubbles, Monetary policy, Macroprudential Policy, Asset prices, Asset management, Financial stability, Monetary policy., markets, financial markets, balance sheet, returns, investment, monetary fund, capital markets, hedge, banking sector, arbitrage, efficient markets, risk premiums, financial assets, global capital markets, investors, financial crisis, contract, finance, lending, central banks, international financial markets, debt accumulation, revenues, derivative markets, stock, tax, value of collateral, asset managers, market efficiency, financial crises, stock market, bank assets, holdings, wealth effect, policy responses, balance sheets, contract design, future, institutional in

JEL Classification: E44, E58, G01, G02, G12, G14, G15, G18

Suggested Citation

Jones, Bradley, Asset Bubbles: Re-Thinking Policy for the Age of Asset Management (February 2015). IMF Working Paper No. 15/27. Available at SSRN:

Bradley Jones (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

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