Working Papers

Abstract: Conventional wisdom holds that the models used to stress test banks should be kept secret to prevent gaming. We show instead that secrecy can be suboptimal, because although it deters gaming, it may also deter socially desirable investment. When the regulator can choose the minimum standard for passing the test, we show that secrecy is suboptimal if the regulator is sufficiently uncertain regarding bank characteristics. When failing the bank is socially costly, then under some conditions, secrecy is suboptimal when the bank's private cost of failure is either sufficiently high or sufficiently low.

Revise and resubmit at Journal of Political Economy

Winner of the 2014 PhD Outstanding Paper Award in Honor of Stuart I. Greenbaum, Washington University in St. Louis

Abstract: I characterize an equilibrium in which sellers can fully separate both asset quality and seller impatience using retention and liquidity. In contrast to received theory, liquidity may be increasing in asset quality. This multidimensional separating equilibrium is more robust to off-equilibrium beliefs than a partial pooling equilibrium with no retention. I also show that if seller impatience is public information, retention shuts down because it is a more costly signal than liquidity, even if retention leads to lower search costs. If sellers may design an asset-backed security before receiving private information and searching for buyers, debt is optimal.

Abstract: How informative should bank stress tests be? I use Bayesian persuasion to formalize stress tests and show that regulators can reduce the likelihood of a bank run by performing tests which are only partially informative. Fully disclosing stress tests are never strictly optimal, and I find conditions under which full disclosure is worse than no disclosure. Optimal stress tests give just enough failing grades to keep passing grades credible enough to avoid runs. I find that optimal stress tests, by reducing the probability of runs, reduce the optimal level of banks' liquidity cushions. I also examine the impact of anticipated stress tests on banks' ex ante incentive to invest in risky versus safe assets.