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Sovereigns Versus Banks: Credit, Crises, And Consequences

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  • Òscar Jordà
  • Moritz Schularick
  • Alan M. Taylor

Abstract

Two separate narratives have emerged in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. One interpretation speaks of private financial excess and the key role of the banking system in leveraging and deleveraging the economy. The other emphasizes the public sector balance sheet over the private and worries about the risks of lax fiscal policies. However, the two may interact in important and understudied ways. This paper examines the co-evolution of public and private sector debt in advanced countries since 1870. We find that in advanced economies significant financial stability risks have mostly come from private sector credit booms rather than from the expansion of public debt. However, we find evidence that high levels of public debt have tended to exacerbate the effects of private sector deleveraging after crises, leading to more prolonged periods of economic depression. We uncover three key facts based on our analysis of around 150 recessions and recoveries since 1870: (i) in a normal recession and recovery real GDP per capita falls by 1.5 percent and takes only 2 years to regain its previous peak, but in a financial crisis recession the drop is typically 5 percent and it takes over 5 years to regain the previous peak; (ii) the output drop is even worse and recovery even slower when the crisis is preceded by a credit boom; and (iii) the path of recovery is worse still when a credit-fueled crisis coincides with elevated public debt levels. Recent experience in the advanced economies provides a useful out-of-sample comparison, and meshes closely with these historical patterns. Fiscal space appears to be a constraint in the aftermath of a crisis, then and now.
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Suggested Citation

  • Òscar Jordà & Moritz Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2016. "Sovereigns Versus Banks: Credit, Crises, And Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 45-79, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jeurec:v:14:y:2016:i:1:p:45-79
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • 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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