DP2652 Government Guarantees, Investment And Vulnerability To Financial Crises

Author(s): Gregor Irwin, David Vines
Publication Date: December 2000
Keyword(s): East Asian Economic Crisis, Financial Crisis, Multiple Equilibrium, Over-Investment
JEL(s): E44, F34, O16
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=2652

This Paper presents a new model of the East Asian crisis that combines three elements ? multiple equilibria, investment collapse, and moral hazard ? in a single simple account. We locate the causes of the crisis in poor financial regulation, highly-geared financial institutions, and implicit guarantees to the financial sector that create moral-hazard. The model has a unique long-run equilibrium with over-investment as a result of the guarantees. But in the short run, in which the capital stock is fixed, there may be multiple equilibria. If foreign banks regard lending as low-risk, then it is. But if they regard lending as high-risk and charge a higher interest rate, then the costs of honouring guarantees rises, making the lending high-risk and the risk premium self-justifying. A crisis occurs with a switch to this second equilibrium in which the government is forced to renege on its guarantees; the effect is a reversal of foreign capital flows. Whether multiple equilibria exist ? and hence whether the economy is vulnerable to a crises ? depends critically on the extent of capital accumulation and the mix between debt and equity financing.