Essays in Household Finance and Bank Regulation
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AbstractMy dissertation focuses on topics in household finance and bank regulation. In chapter 1, I estimate the household consumption response to a predictable, quasi-permanent income shock. Credit card spending rises well before the positive shock occurs and then plateaus, suggesting that households are forward-looking and have enough liquidity to increase spending. This type of household behavior is found to be remarkably similar to the simulation of a modified buffer-stock model. The main conclusion is that households appear to be quite sophisticated in their consumption behavior, which has various policy implications.
In chapter 2 (joint with Divya Kirti), we present a model that describes how different types of bank regulation can affect the likelihood of fire sales in a crisis. There are three main results. First, the design of capital requirements affects whether fire sales can occur in the recapitalization process. Second, the interaction between capital and liquidity requirements causes banks to become larger and can also make fire sales more likely. Third, mandatory equity issuance can be a useful policy for limiting fire sales, but only if binding. Collectively, our findings suggest that bank regulation may have a strong effect on the likelihood of fire sales. In addition, time-varying risk weights may more effective than time-varying capital requirements in preventing fire sales.
In chapter 3 (joint with Todd Keister), we investigate whether policy makers should be permitted to bail out financial institutions during a financial crisis. We develop a model that incorporates two competing views about the causes of these crises: self-fulfilling shifts in investors’ expectations and deteriorating economic fundamentals. We show that – in both cases – the desirability of allowing intervention depends on a tradeoff between incentives and insurance. If policy makers can correct incentive distortions through regulation, then allowing intervention is always optimal. If regulation is imperfect and the risk-sharing benefit from intervention is absent, it is optimal to prohibit intervention. Our results show that it is possible to provide meaningful policy analysis without taking a stand on the contentious issue of whether financial crises are driven by expectations or fundamentals.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:37945005
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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