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Financial Intermediation and The Great Depression: A Multiple Equilibrium Interpretation

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  • Russell Cooper
  • Joao Ejarque

Abstract

This paper explores the behavior of the U.S. economy during the interwar period from the perspective of a model in which the existence of non-convexities in the intermediation process gives rise to a multiplicity of equilibria. The resulting indeterminancy is resolved through a sunspot process which leads to endogenous fluctuations in aggregate economic activity. From this perspective, the Depression period is represented as a regime shift associated with a financial crisis. Our model economy has properties which are broadly consistent with observations over the interwar period. Contrary to observation, the model predicts a negative correlation of consumption and investment as well as a highly volatile capital stock. Our model of financial crisis reproduces many aspects of the Great Depression though the model predicts a much sharper fall in investment than is observed in the data. Modifications to our model (adding durable goods and a capacity utilization choice) do not overcome these deficiencies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5130.

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Date of creation: May 1995
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5130

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  1. Gertler, Mark, 1988. "Financial Structure and Aggregate Economic Activity: An Overview," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 20(3), pages 559-88, August.
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  7. Satyajit Chatterjee & Russell W. Cooper & B. Ravikumar, 1993. "Strategic complementarity in business formation: aggregate fluctuations and sunspot equilibria," Working Papers 93-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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  13. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-76, June.
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  27. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
  28. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 1994. "Financial Intermediation and Aggregate Fluctuations: A Quantative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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