Costs of financial instability, household-sector balance sheets and consumption
The literature on costs of financial instability tends to focus on fiscal costs and the impact on GDP of banking crises. In this paper we analyse the effect of a banking or currency crisis on consumption. We show that consumption plays an important role in the macroeconomic adjustment following a financial crisis. Furthermore, the effect of a crisis is aggravated by high leverage, notably as shown by the effect of a high debt-income ratio, despite the benefits of financial liberalisation in easing liquidity constraints. It is also greater in a small open economy than in the G-7. Meanwhile, falling house prices are shown to be part of the transmission process of financial instability, and high nominal interest rates are an indicator of sharp declines in consumption. A simulation for a banking crisis underlines the important role of monetary and fiscal policy in easing the impact of a financial crisis on consumption and other expenditure components. Viewed in the light of growing gearing, or leverage, in recent years, the results imply that a banking crisis taking place now could have a greater incidence than in the past, especially if macroeconomic policy is unable to respond, as for a small country in EMU.
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