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Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises

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  • Atif R. Mian
  • Amir Sufi
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

Debtors bear the brunt of a decline in asset prices associated with financial crises and policies aimed at partial debt relief may be warranted to boost growth in the midst of crises. Drawing on the US experience during the Great Recession of 2008-09 and historical evidence in a large panel of countries, we explore why the political system may fail to deliver such policies. We find that during the Great Recession creditors were able to use the political system more effectively to protect their interests through bailouts. More generally we show that politically countries become more polarized and fractionalized following financial crises. This results in legislative stalemate, making it less likely that crises lead to meaningful macroeconomic reforms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17831.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17831

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  1. Alesina, A. & Drazen, A., 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," Papers 6-91, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Dorian Carloni & Giampaolo Lecce, 2012. "The Electoral Consequences of Large Fiscal Adjustments," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 531-570 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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