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The Long Slump

  • Robert E. Hall

In a market-clearing economy, declines in demand from one sector do not cause large declines in aggregate output because other sectors expand. The key price mediating the response is the interest rate. A decline in the rate stimulates all categories of spending. But in a low-inflation economy, the room for a decline in the rate is small, because of the notorious lower limit of zero on the nominal interest rate. In the Great Depression, substantial deflation caused the real interest rate to reach high levels. In the Great Slump that began at the end of 2007, low inflation resulted in an only slightly negative real rate when full employment called for a much lower real rate because of declines in demand. Fortunately, the inflation rate hardly responded to conditions in product and labor markets, else deflation might have occurred, with an even higher real interest rate. I concentrate on three closely related sources of declines in demand: the buildup of excess stocks of housing and consumer durables, the corresponding expansion of consumer debt that financed the buildup, and financial frictions that resulted from the decline in real-estate prices. (JEL E23, E24, E31, E32, E65)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 431-69

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:2:p:431-69
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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
  2. repec:oup:restud:v:61:y:1994:i:3:p:397-415 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "Reconciling Cyclical Movements in the Marginal Value of Time and the Marginal Product of Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 281-323, 04.
  4. Christina D. Romer, 1991. "What Ended the Great Depression?," NBER Working Papers 3829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
  9. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2010. "The Effects of Fiscal Stimulus: Evidence from the 2009 'Cash for Clunkers' Program," NBER Working Papers 16351, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gertler, Mark & Karadi, Peter, 2011. "A model of unconventional monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 17-34, January.
  11. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Michael Woodford, 2003. "The Zero Bound on Interest Rates and Optimal Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 139-235.
  12. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
  13. Manuel Toledo & Jose I. Silva, 2005. "Labor Turnover Costs and the Cyclical Behavior of Vacancies and Unemployment," 2005 Meeting Papers 775, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Robert E. Hall, 2010. "Why Does the Economy Fall to Pieces after a Financial Crisis?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 3-20, Fall.
  15. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:3:p:899-927 is not listed on IDEAS
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