CFDP 1304R5

Default and Punishment in General Equilibrium


Publication Date: May 2001

Revision Date: March 2004

Pages: 38


We extend the standard model of general equilibrium with incomplete markets to allow for default and punishment by thinking of assets as pools. The equilibrating variables include expected delivery rates, along with the usual prices of assets and commodities. By reinterpreting the variables, our model encompasses a broad range of adverse selection and signalling phenomena in a perfectly competitive, general equilibrium framework.

Perfect competition eliminates the need for lenders to compute how the size of their loan or the price they quote might affect default rates. It also makes for a simple equilibrium refinement, which we propose in order to rule out irrational pessimism about deliveries of untraded assets.

We show that refined equilibrium always exists in our model, and that default, in conjunction with refinement, opens the door to a theory of endogenous assets. The market chooses the promises, default penalties, and quantity constraints of actively traded assets.


default, incomplete markets, adverse selection, moral hazard, equilibrium refinement, endogenous assets

JEL Classification Codes:  D4, D5, D8, D41, D52, D81, D82

See CFP: 1108