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Depression Econometrics: A FAVAR Model of Monetary Policy During the Great Depression

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  • Ahmadi, Pooyan Amir
  • Ritschl, Albrecht

Abstract

The prominent role of monetary policy in the U.S. interwar depression has been conventional wisdom since Friedman and Schwartz [1963]. This paper presents evidence on both the surprise and the systematic components of monetary policy between 1929 and 1933. Doubts surrounding GDP estimates for the 1920s would call into question conventional VAR techniques. We therefore adopt the FAVAR methodology of Bernanke, Boivin, and Eliasz [2005], aggregating a large number of time series into a few factors and inserting these into a monetary policy VAR. We work in a Bayesian framework and apply MCMC methods to obtain the posteriors. Employing the generalized sign restriction approach toward identification of Amir Ahmadi and Uhlig [2008], we find the effects of monetary policy shocks to have been moderate. To analyze the systematic policy component, we back out the monetary policy reaction function and its response to aggregate supply and demand shocks. Results broadly confirm the Friedman/Schwartz view about restrictive monetary policy, but indicate only moderate effects. We further analyze systematic policy through conditional forecasts of key time series at critical junctures, taken with and without the policy instrument. Effects are again quite moderate. Our results caution against a predominantly monetary interpretation of the Great Depression.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7546.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7546

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Keywords: Bayesian FAVAR; Dynamic Factor Model; Friedman Schwartz Hypothesis; Great Depression; Monetary policy;

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References

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  1. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  2. Ben Bernanke & Jean Boivin & Piotr S. Eliasz, 2005. "Measuring the Effects of Monetary Policy: A Factor-augmented Vector Autoregressive (FAVAR) Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(1), pages 387-422, January.
  3. Eric M. Leeper & Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1996. "What Does Monetary Policy Do?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 1-78.
  4. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher J. Erceg & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Money, sticky wages, and the Great Depression," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Kadiyala, K Rao & Karlsson, Sune, 1997. "Numerical Methods for Estimation and Inference in Bayesian VAR-Models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 99-132, March-Apr.
  6. Bernanke, Ben S. & Boivin, Jean, 2003. "Monetary policy in a data-rich environment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 525-546, April.
  7. Lawrence J. Christiano & Roberto Motto, 2004. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz Hypothesis," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 169, Society for Computational Economics.
  8. Uhlig, Harald, 2005. "What are the effects of monetary policy on output? Results from an agnostic identification procedure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 381-419, March.
  9. Ray C. Fair & Matthew D. Shapiro & Kathryn M. Dominguez, 1986. "Forecasting the Depression: Harvard Versus Yale," NBER Working Papers 2095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2006. "Did sunspot forces cause the Great Depression?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1327-1339, October.
  11. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian & Ron Leung, 2005. "Deflation and the International Great Depression: A Productivity Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 11237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2005. "Implications of Dynamic Factor Models for VAR Analysis," NBER Working Papers 11467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Ritschl, Albrecht & Woitek, Ulrich, 2000. "Did Monetary Forces Cause the Great Depression?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2547, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Ebell, Monique & Ritschl, Albrecht, 2007. "Real Origins of the Great Depression: Monopolistic Competition, Union Power, and the American Business Cycle in the 1920s," CEPR Discussion Papers 6146, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
  16. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, December.
  17. Bernanke, Ben S & Carey, Kevin, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 853-83, August.
  18. Hamilton, James D, 1992. "Was the Deflation during the Great Depression Anticipated? Evidence from the Commodity Futures Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 157-78, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Dedu, Vasile & Stoica, Tiberiu, 2014. "The Impact of Monetaru Policy on the Romanian Economy," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(2), pages 71-86, June.
  2. Helmut L├╝tkepohl, 2014. "Structural Vector Autoregressive Analysis in a Data Rich Environment: A Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1351, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Harald Uhlig & Pooyan Amir Ahmadi, 2012. "Measuring The Dynamic Effects Of Monetary Policy Shocks: A Bayesian Favar Approach With Sign Restriction," 2012 Meeting Papers 1060, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Klein, Alexander & Otsuy, Keisuke, 2013. "Efficiency, Distortions and Factor Utilization during the Interwar Period," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 147, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. Amir-Ahmadi, Pooyan & Matthes, Christian & Wang, Mu-Chun, 2014. "Drifts, Volatilities, and Impulse Responses Over the Last Century," Working Paper 14-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  6. Alex Klein & Keisuke Otsu, 2013. "Efficiency, Distortions and Factor Utilization during the Interwar Period," Studies in Economics 1317, Department of Economics, University of Kent.

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