Leverage, Moral Hazard and Liquidity

45 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2007 Last revised: 5 Mar 2010

See all articles by Viral V. Acharya

Viral V. Acharya

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

S. Viswanathan

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; Duke University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 3, 2010

Abstract

We build a model of the financial sector to explain why adverse asset shocks in good economic times lead to a sudden drying up of liquidity. Financial firms raise short-term debt in order to finance asset purchases. When asset fundamentals worsen, debt induces firms to risk-shift; this limits their funding liquidity and their ability to roll over debt. Firms may de-lever by selling assets to better-capitalized firms. Thus the market liquidity of assets depends on the severity of the asset shock and the system-wide distribution of leverage. This distribution of leverage is, however, itself endogenous to future prospects. In particular, short-term debt is relatively cheap to issue in good times when expectations of asset fundamentals are benign, resulting in entry to the financial sector of firms with less capital or high leverage. Due to such entry, even though the incidence of financial crises is lower in good times, their severity in terms of de-leveraging and evaporation of market liquidity can in fact be greater.

Keywords: risk-shifting, credit rationing, market liquidity, funding liquidity, fire sales, financial crises, cash-in-the-market pricing

JEL Classification: G12, G20, D45, D52, D53

Suggested Citation

Acharya, Viral V. and Viswanathan, S., Leverage, Moral Hazard and Liquidity (March 3, 2010). Journal of Finance, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1075102

Viral V. Acharya (Contact Author)

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~sternfin/vacharya/public_html/~vacharya.htm

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

S. Viswanathan

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7784 (Phone)
919-684-2818 (Fax)

Duke University - Department of Economics

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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