Essays in Dynamic Contracts with Costly State Verification and Limited Commitment

Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2013

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In this dissertation I study optimal borrowing contracts in environments with credit markets imperfections and I explore how several institutions can influence the risk of strategic default. Specifically, in the first and in the second essays I study the efficient information production in credit relationships that are repeated over time, while in the third chapter I study the welfare consequences of different settlement arrangements.

Information production in static loan contracts is well understood to be useful for resolving incentive problems and contemporaneously enforce contractual obligations: the value of information in a static costly state verification environment is linked to contemporaneous enforcement of the contractual obligations. In a dynamic environment instead, costly monitoring will survive the provision of dynamic incentives if the information produced by the verification process becomes in part independent of the value of monitoring in enforcing repayments. When the interaction between the lender and the borrower is repeated over time, the information about the position of the players in a particular node of the game tree has value to the lender because it allows to limit history dependence, "reset the clock" and avoid that the evolution of history take the game to a node where incentive-compatible continuation contracts entail punishments so severe to become self-defeating (termination).

In the third essay I study a model of trading with limited commitment where collateral is used both to provide incentives and to provide insurance to risk averse traders. In economies with bilateral clearing, collateral (i) serves as insurance against counterparty default risk and (ii) guarantees that agents do not strategically default on their obligations. With central clearing, novation of financial contracts and diversification of counterparty default risk within the CCP strictly dominate collateral as an instrument for insurance. Nevertheless, when the CCP cannot observe the characteristics of its members and prices are not fully informative, the incentive problems associated with central clearing are more severe than those associated with bilateral clearing, leading to higher collateral requirements. Therefore, the desirability of Central Counter Party clearing depends on the resolution of this trade-off.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Gaetano Antinolfi

Committee Members

Costas Azariadis, Silvio Contessi, John Nachbar, Maher Said, Stephen D Williamson


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K7PC309D

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