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Depression econometrics: a FAVAR model of monetary policy during the Great Depression

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  • Pooyan Amir Ahmadi
  • Albrecht Ritschl

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 51582.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:51582

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Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Christiano, Lawrence & Motto, Roberto & Rostagno, Massimo, 2004. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Working Paper Series 0326, European Central Bank.
  6. Kadiyala, K. Rao & Karlsson, Sune, 1994. "Numerical Aspects of Bayesian VAR-modeling," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 12, Stockholm School of Economics.
  7. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, December.
  8. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher J. Erceg & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Money, sticky wages, and the Great Depression," International Finance Discussion Papers 591, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Ritschl, Albrecht & Woitek, Ulrich, 2000. "Did Monetary Forces Cause the Great Depression?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2547, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Ben S. Bernanke & Jean Boivin & Piotr Eliasz, 2004. "Measuring the Effects of Monetary Policy: A Factor-Augmented Vector Autoregressive (FAVAR) Approach," NBER Working Papers 10220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Harrison, Sharon G & Weder, Mark, 2002. "Did Sunspot Forces Cause the Great Depression?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3267, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Helmut L├╝tkepohl, 2014. "Structural Vector Autoregressive Analysis in a Data Rich Environment: A Survey," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2014-004, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  2. 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.
  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. 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.
  5. 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).
  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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