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House Prices, Borrowing Constraints, and Monetary Policy in

By Matteo Iacoviello


I develop a general equilibrium model with sticky prices, credit constraints, nominal loans and asset prices. Changes in asset prices modify agents ’ borrowing capacity through collateral value; changes in nominal prices affect real repayments through debt deflation. Monetary policy shocks move asset and nominal prices in the same direction, and are amplified and propagated over time. The “financial accelerator ” is not constant across shocks: nominal debt stabilises supply shocks, making the economy less volatile when the central bank controls the interest rate. I discuss the role of equity, debt indexation and household and firm leverage in the propagation mechanism. Finally, I find that monetary policy should not target asset prices as a means of reducing output and inflation volatility. “The population is not distributed between debtors and creditors randomly. Debtors have borrowed for good reasons, most of which indicate a high marginal propensity to spend from wealth or from current income or from any other liquid resources they can command. Typically their indebtedness is rationed by lenders [...] Business borrowers typically have a strong propensity to hold physical capital, producers ’ durable goods. Their desired portfolios contain more capital than their net worth — they like to take risks with other people’s money. Household debtors are frequently young families acquiring homes and furnishings before they earn incomes to pay for them outright; given the difficulty of borrowing against future wages, they are liquidity-constrained and have a high marginal propensity to consume ” (James Tobin, “Asset Accumulation and Economic Activity”, 1980

Year: 2005
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