Endogenous debt constraints in collateralized economies with default penalties
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In infinite horizon financial markets economies, competitive equilibria fail to exist if one does not impose restrictions on agents' trades that rule out Ponzi schemes. When there is limited commitment and collateral repossession is the unique default punishment, Araujo, Páscoa and Torres-Martínez (2002) proved that Ponzi schemes are ruled out without imposing any exogenous/endogenous debt constraints on agents' trades. Recently Páscoa and Seghir (2009) have shown that this positive result is not robust to the presence of additional default punishments. They provide several examples showing that, in the absence of debt constraints, harsh default penalties may induce agents to run Ponzi schemes that jeopardize equilibrium existence. The objective of this paper is to close a theoretical gap in the literature by identifying endogenous borrowing constraints that rule out Ponzi schemes and ensure existence of equilibria in a model with limited commitment and (possible) default. We appropriately modify the definition of finitely effective debt constraints, introduced by Levine and Zame (1996) (see also Levine and Zame (2002)), to encompass models with limited commitment, default penalties and collateral. Along this line, we introduce in the setting of Araujo, Páscoa and Torres-Martínez (2002), Kubler and Schmedders (2003) and Páscoa and Seghir (2009) the concept of actions with finite equivalent payoffs. We show that, independently of the level of default penalties, restricting plans to have finite equivalent payoffs rules out Ponzi schemes and guarantees the existence of an equilibrium that is compatible with the minimal ability to borrow and lend that we expect in our model. An interesting feature of our debt constraints is that they give rise to budget sets that coincide with the standard budget sets of economies having a collateral structure but no penalties (as defined in Araujo, Páscoa and Torres-Martínez (2002)). This illustrates the hidden relation between finitely effective debt constraints and collateral requirements.