Bailout uncertainty in a microfounded general equilibrium model of the financial system

Alex Cukierman*, Yehuda Izhakian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper develops a micro-founded general equilibrium model of the financial system composed of ultimate borrowers, ultimate lenders and financial intermediaries. The model is used to investigate the impact of uncertainty about the likelihood of governmental bailouts on leverage, interest rates, the volume of defaults and the real economy. The distinction between risk and uncertainty is implemented by applying the multiple priors framework to beliefs about the probability of bailout.Results of the analysis include: (i) An unanticipated increase in bailout uncertainty raises interest rates, the volume of defaults in both the real and financial sectors and may lead to a total drying up of credit markets. (ii) Lower exante bailout uncertainty is conducive to higher leverage, which in turn raises moral hazard and makes the economy more vulnerable to expost increases in bailout uncertainty. (iii) Bailout uncertainty affects the likelihood of bubbles, the amplitude of booms and busts as well as the banking and the credit spreads. (iv) Higher bailout uncertainty is associated with higher returns' variability in diversified portfolios and higher systemic risks, (v) Pre-crisis expansionary monetary policy reinforces those effects by inducing higher aggregate leverage levels. (vi) The larger the change in bailout uncertainty and the change in aversion to this uncertainty, the stronger the pre-crisis buildup and the deeper the ensuing crisis.A central policy implication of the analysis is that the vaguest is bailout policy prior to a crisis, the lower is the magnitude of investments destroyed or missed due to errors in evaluating bailout and other intervention policies. On the other hand, the clearer is bailout policy upon the eruption of a crisis, the smaller the contraction of credit and the destruction of investment activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-179
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Banking and Finance
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Bailouts
  • Duration mismatches
  • Financial intermediaries
  • Lehman's default
  • Leverage
  • Risk
  • Uncertainty


Dive into the research topics of 'Bailout uncertainty in a microfounded general equilibrium model of the financial system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this