DP9636 Safety Traps

Author(s): Kenza Benhima, Baptiste Massenot
Publication Date: September 2013
Keyword(s): Business cycles, Japan's lost decade, Risk aversion
JEL(s): E22, E32
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9636

Fear of risk provides a rationale for protracted economic downturns. We develop a real business cycle model where investors with decreasing relative risk aversion choose between a risky and a safe technology that exhibit decreasing returns. Because of a feedback effect from the interest rate to risk aversion, two equilibria can emerge: a standard equilibrium and a ``safe'' one in which investors invest in safer assets. We refer to the dynamics of this second equilibrium as a safety trap because it is self-reinforcing as investors accumulate more wealth and show it to be consistent with Japan's lost decade.