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Why Does the Economy Fall to Pieces after a Financial Crisis?

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  • Robert E. Hall

Abstract

The worst financial crisis in the history of the United States and many other countries started in 1929. The Great Depression followed. The second-worst struck in the fall of 2008 and the Great Recession followed. Commentators have dwelt endlessly on the causes of these and other deep financial collapses. This article pursues modern answers to a different question: why does output and employment collapse after a financial crisis and remain at low levels for several or many years after the crisis. It focuses on events in the United States since 2008. Existing macroeconomic models account successfully for the immediate effects of a financial crisis on output and employment. I will lay out a simple macro model that captures the most important features of modern models and show that realistic increases in financial frictions that occurred in the crisis of late 2008 will generate declines in real GDP and employment of the magnitude that occurred. But this model cannot explain why GDP and employment failed to recover once the financial crisis subsided—the model implies a recovery as soon as financial frictions return to normal. At the end of the article, I will mention some ideas that are in play to explain the persistent adverse effects of temporary crises, but have yet to be incorporated into the mainstream model.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.24.4.3
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 24 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 3-20

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:4:p:3-20

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.4.3
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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Working Paper Series WP-01-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Robert Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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Cited by:
  1. Robert E. Hall, 2011. "The Long Slump," NBER Working Papers 16741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2012. "Disentangling the Channels of the 2007-2009 Recession," NBER Working Papers 18094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Roger Koppl & William Luther, 2012. "Hayek, Keynes, and modern macroeconomics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 223-241, September.
  4. Robert E. Hall, 2013. "Financial Frictions," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 9(2), pages 155-163, June.
  5. Chevallier, Julien, 2012. "Global imbalances, cross-market linkages, and the financial crisis : a multivariate Markov-Switching analysis," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/8773, Paris Dauphine University.
  6. Vito Tanzi, 2011. "The Return to Fiscal Rectitude After the Recent Escapade," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 253-277, JULY-SEPT.
  7. Teodoro Dario Togati, 2012. "How to Explain the Persistence of the Great Recession? A Balanced Stability Approach," Working papers 014, Department of Economics and Statistics (Dipartimento di Scienze Economico-Sociali e Matematico-Statistiche), University of Torino.
  8. Clifford Winston, 2013. "On the Performance of the U.S. Transportation System: Caution Ahead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 773-824, September.
  9. Chester Curme & Michele Tumminello & Rosario N. Mantegna & H. Eugene Stanley & Dror Y. Kenett, 2014. "Emergence of statistically validated financial intraday lead-lag relationships," Papers 1401.0462, arXiv.org.
  10. Lubik, Thomas A. & Sarte, Pierre-Daniel G. & Schwartzman, Felipe, 2014. "What Inventory Behavior Tells Us About How Business Cycles Have Changed," Working Paper 14-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

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