Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Economics

First Advisor

Enrique G. Mendoza

Abstract

How can governments design policies that alleviate the macroeconomic implications of financial frictions? This dissertation contributes to answer this question focusing on two aspects: international borrowing and crisis prevention at the country's level, and the impact of taxation and financial regulation on entrepreneurship at the agent's level. In the first chapter, debt crises arise from the incompleteness of sovereign debt markets: the government cannot credibly commit to repay or default in certain states of the world and this gives way to non-fundamental debt crises. In a strategic default environment, I show that international reserve holdings help to reduce the probability of these market-driven debt crises, advancing the theoretical literature that had struggled to explain why countries hold reserves while indebted. The results are consistent with previous empirical results that had shown countries with greater reserve holdings faced lower spreads in the sovereign debt markets, which is at odds with the previous theories. In the second chapter, a small open economy faces an aggregate borrowing constraint and the agents fail to internalize how their private borrowing decisions push the total debt towards the limit, making the current account adjustment more severe. We model the decentralized and planner’s problem and find the optimal capital control policies, these are very effective to move the economy to the first-best scenario but also very hard to implement, given their state contingent nature. We then address the effectiveness of simpler policy rules, and find that they can bring welfare gains but had to be carefully designed. Finally, in the third chapter, the competition among investors for the most promising entrepreneurs, under adverse selection and limited liability, leads to an excessive entry into entrepreneurship activity and allocates resources to socially inefficient projects. We solve the optimal contracting problem and show that the inefficiency disappears if at least one of the next three is missing: competition in financial intermediation, adverse selection or limited liability. We also show that a small cost or fee per contract, like red-tape requirements, is enough to restore efficiency, making a case for financial regulation.

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