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The Italian financial cycle: 1861-2011

Author

Listed:
  • Riccardo De Bonis

    () (Bank of Italy, Economics, Research and International Relations, Via Nazionale 91, 00184, Rome, Italy)

  • Andrea Silvestrini

    () (Bank of Italy, Economics, Research and International Relations, Via Nazionale 91, 00184, Rome, Italy)

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the main features of the Italian financial cycle, extracted by means of a structural trend-cycle decomposition of the credit-to-GDP ratio, using annual observations from 1861 to 2011. In order to draw conclusions based on solid historical data, we provide a thorough reconstruction of the key balance sheet time series of Italian banks, considering all the main assets and liabilities over the last 150 years. We come to three main conclusions. First, while there was close correlation between loans and deposits (relative to GDP) until the mid-1970s, over the last 30 years, this link became more tenuous and the volume of loans has increased in relation to deposits. The banks covered this “funding gap” mainly by issuing new debt securities. Second, the Italian financial cycle has a much longer duration than traditional business cycles. Third, taking into account the deviation of the credit-to-GDP ratio from its trend, an acceleration of credit preceded or accompanied a banking crisis in 8 out of the 12 episodes listed by Reinhart and Rogoff (This time is different: eight centuries of financial folly. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2009). A Logit regression confirms a positive association between the probability of a banking crisis and a previous acceleration of the credit-to-GDP gap. However, there were also periods -such as the early 1970s- in which the growth of the credit-to-GDP ratio was not followed by a banking crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Riccardo De Bonis & Andrea Silvestrini, 2014. "The Italian financial cycle: 1861-2011," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 8(3), pages 301-334, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:8:y:2014:i:3:p:301-334
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    Cited by:

    1. Paolo Di Martino & Barbara Pistoresi & Alberto Rinaldi, 2016. "International financial flows, domestic banks, and the economic development of the periphery: Italy, 1861-1913," Department of Economics 0104, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    2. Rünstler, Gerhard & Vlekke, Marente, 2016. "Business, housing and credit cycles," Working Paper Series 1915, European Central Bank.
    3. Piergiorgio Alessandri & Pierluigi Bologna & Roberta Fiori & Enrico Sette, 2015. "A note on the implementation of the countercyclical capital buffer in Italy," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 278, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Guido Bulligan & Lorenzo Burlon & Davide Delle Monache & Andrea Silvestrini, 2017. "Real and financial cycles: estimates using unobserved component models for the Italian economy," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 382, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    5. repec:eee:riibaf:v:42:y:2017:i:c:p:242-248 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kunovac, Davor & Mandler, Martin & Scharnagl, Michael, 2018. "Financial cycles in euro area economies: A cross-country perspective," Discussion Papers 04/2018, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    7. repec:pal:buseco:v:52:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1057_s11369-017-0035-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Baffigi, Alberto & Bontempi, Maria Elena & Felice, Emanuele & Golinelli, Roberto, 2015. "The changing relationship between inflation and the economic cycle in Italy: 1861–2012," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 53-70.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Banking system; Credit-to-GDP ratio; Financial cycle; Unobserved components;

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative

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