The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Default and Enforcement Constraints

  • Fabrizio Perri
Reference work entry


This article illustrates when limited enforcement of contracts induces enforcement constraints (limits to intertemporal exchange) or default (the breaking of intertemporal promises with the associated punishment), and sheds light on how enforcement policies should be related to the observed frequency of default. When limited enforcement is the only friction equilibrium default is never observed, yet tightening enforcement of contracts is socially beneficial. When limited enforcement coexists with other frictions, default occurs in equilibrium but tightening enforcement might be socially undesirable. The reason is that equilibrium default, although detrimental to intertemporal exchange, might lead to improved allocation of resources across states.


Arrow–Debreu promises Default Enforcement constraints Intertemporal exchange Lagrange multipliers Limited enforcement of contracts with default Limited enforcement of contracts without default Risk sharing 

JEL Classification

D4 D10 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabrizio Perri
    • 1
  1. 1.