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The Myth of Financial Innovation and the Great Moderation

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  • Wouter J. Den Haan
  • Vincent Sterk

Abstract

Financial innovation is widely believed to be at least partly responsible for the recent financial crisis. At the same time, there are empirical and theoretical arguments that support the view that changes in financial markets played a role in the "great moderation". If both are true, then the price of reducing the likelihood of another crisis, e.g., through new regulation, could be giving up another episode of sustained growth and low volatility. However, this paper questions empirical evidence supporting the view that innovation in consumer credit and home mortgages reduced cyclical variations of key economic variables. We find that especially the behaviour of aggregate home mortgages changed less during the great moderation than is typically believed. For example, aggregate home mortgages declined during monetary tightenings, both before and during the great moderation. A remarkable change we do find is that monetary tightenings became episodes during which financial institutions other than banks increased their holdings in mortgages. Once can question the desirability of such strong substitutions of ownership during economic downturns.
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Suggested Citation

  • Wouter J. Den Haan & Vincent Sterk, 2011. "The Myth of Financial Innovation and the Great Moderation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(553), pages 707-739, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:553:p:707-739
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Urban J. Jermann & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2006. "Financial innovations and macroeconomic volatility," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    2. Stephen G Cecchetti & Alfonso Flores-Lagunes & Stefan Krause, 2005. "Assessing the Sources of Changes in the Volatility of Real Growth," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Christopher Kent & David Norman (ed.), The Changing Nature of the Business Cycle Reserve Bank of Australia.
    3. Iacoviello, Matteo & Pavan, Marina, 2013. "Housing and debt over the life cycle and over the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 221-238.
    4. Jonathan McCarthy & Richard Peach, 2002. "Monetary policy transmission to residential investment," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 139-158.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. "The Elevated Position of the Financial Sector"
      by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2011-10-27 12:24:00
    2. "The Elevated Position of the Financial Sector"
      by Economists View in FavStocks on 2011-10-28 15:02:14

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Punzi, Maria Teresa, 2016. "Financial cycles and co-movements between the real economy, finance and asset price dynamics in large-scale crises," FinMaP-Working Papers 61, Collaborative EU Project FinMaP - Financial Distortions and Macroeconomic Performance: Expectations, Constraints and Interaction of Agents.
    2. Grydaki, Maria & Bezemer, Dirk, 2013. "The role of credit in the Great Moderation: A multivariate GARCH approach," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4615-4626.
    3. Punzi, Maria Teresa & Kauko, Karlo, 2015. "Testing the global banking glut hypothesis," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 128-151.
    4. Boris Hofmann & Gert Peersman, 2017. "Monetary Policy Transmission And Trade-Offs In The United States: Old And New," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 17/940, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    5. Roland Meeks & Benjamin Nelson & Piergiorgio Alessandri, 2017. "Shadow Banks and Macroeconomic Instability," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 49(7), pages 1483-1516, October.
    6. Giraitis, Liudas & Kapetanios, George & Theodoridis, Konstantinos & Yates, Tony, 2014. "Estimating time-varying DSGE models using minimum distance methods," Bank of England working papers 507, Bank of England.
    7. Steven Cassou & Jesús Vázquez, 2014. "Employment comovements at the sectoral level over the business cycle," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 1301-1323, June.
    8. Falk Mazelis, 2014. "Monetary Policy Effects on Financial Intermediation via the Regulated and the Shadow Banking Systems," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2014-056, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    9. Falk Mazelis, 2015. "The Role of Shadow Banking in the Monetary Transmission Mechanism and the Business Cycle," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2015-040, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    10. Gaetano Antinolfi & Celso Brunetti, 2013. "Economic volatility and financial markets: the case of mortgage-backed securities," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    11. Eickmeier, Sandra & Ng, Tim, 2015. "How do US credit supply shocks propagate internationally? A GVAR approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 128-145.
    12. Boštjan Jazbec & Uroš Herman & Matija Lozej, 2014. "Synchronization and decoupling of cycles in Slovenia," Chapters,in: Financial Cycles and the Real Economy, chapter 6, pages 77-95 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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