October 2015

IZA DP No. 9409: Household Debt and Crises of Confidence

revised version published in: Quantitative Economics, 2018, 9, 1489-1542.

We show that the size of collateralized household debt determines an economy's vulnerability to crises of confidence. The house price feeds back on itself by contributing to a liquidity effect, which operates through the value of housing in a collateral constraint. Over a specific range of debt levels this liquidity feedback effect is strong enough to give rise to multiplicity of house prices. In a dynamic setup, we conceptualize confidence as a realization of rationally entertainable belief-weightings of multiple future prices. This delivers debt-level-dependent bounds on the extent to which confidence may drive house prices and aggregate consumption.