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The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics

Editor-in-Chief: Cavalcanti, Tiago / Kambourov, Gueorgui

Ed. by Abraham, Arpad / Carceles-Poveda , Eva / Debortoli, Davide / Lambertini, Luisa / Nimark, Kristoffer / Schwartzman, Felipe / Wang, Pengfei

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The financial accelerator and marketable debt: the prolongation channel

Michael Kühl
Published Online: 2018-10-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejm-2017-0116


This paper investigates the effects of mark-to-market accounting for risky liabilities on the business cycle. While marking assets to market results in an amplification of the business cycle, as is well-known from the financial accelerator model à la Bernanke, Gertler, and Gilchrist [Bernanke, B. S., M. Gertler, and S. Gilchrist. 1999. “The Financial Accelerator in a Quantitative Business Cycle Framework.” In Handbook of Macroeconomics, edited by J. Taylor and M. Woodford, Elsevier.], allowing for debt with a specific maturity priced at market value generates ambiguous effects. Changes in the market price of debt affects firms’ net worth since the accounting principle takes the perspective of repurchasing debt. This is called the prolongation channel of debt. Real economic activity is attenuated as long as asset and debt prices move in the same direction, whereas the response of debt prices is stronger. This happens for a monetary policy shock or a shock to total factor productivity. Amplification occurs if both prices move in opposite directions, as is the case for a demand shock. The implications for the business cycle eventually depend on the occurrence of shocks. Implementing mark-to-market accounting for liabilities in a model for the US yields a higher volatility of the business cycle.

Keywords: fair value accounting; financial accelerator; financial frictions; marketable debt; maturities; prolongation channel

JEL Classification: E32; E44


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-10-11

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, 20170116, ISSN (Online) 1935-1690, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejm-2017-0116.

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