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Moral Hazard in Lending and Labor Market Volatility

Manoj Atolia (), John Gibson and Milton Marquis

Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 2019, vol. 51, issue 1, 79-109

Abstract: When the economy experiences a sharp economic downturn, credit spreads widen and project financing costs for firms rise as funding sources begin to dry up. The economy experiences a lengthy recovery, with unemployment rates slow to return to “full employment” levels. We develop a model that displays these features. It relies on an interaction between labor search frictions and firm‐level moral hazard that is accentuated during recessions. The model is capable of addressing the “Shimer puzzle,” with labor market variables exhibiting significantly more volatility on average as a result of the heightened moral hazard concerns during these episodes that significantly deepen and prolong periods of high unemployment, as vacancy postings fall dramatically and the job‐finding rate declines. Our mechanism is also found to induce internal shock propagation causing the peak response of output, unemployment, and wages to occur with a several quarter delay relative to a model without such frictions. Many other labor market variables also show slower recovery—their return to preshock level occurs at a slower pace for a number of periods after the peak response.

Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:wly:jmoncb:v:51:y:2019:i:1:p:79-109