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Financial Crises, Credit Booms, and External Imbalances: 140 Years of Lessons

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  • Òscar Jordà
  • Moritz Schularick
  • Alan M Taylor

Abstract

Do external imbalances increase the risk of financial crises? This paper studies the experience of 14 developed countries over 140 years (1870–2008). It exploits the long-run data set in a number of different ways. First, the paper applies new statistical tools to describe the temporal and spatial patterns of crises and identifies five episodes of global financial instability in the past 140 years. Second, it studies the macroeconomic dynamics before crises and shows that credit growth tends to be elevated and short-term interest rates depressed relative to the “natural rate” in the run-up to global financial crises. Third, the paper shows that recessions associated with crises lead to deeper slumps and stronger turnarounds in imbalances than during normal recessions. Finally, the paper asks to what extent external imbalances help predict financial crises. The overall result is that credit growth emerges as the single best predictor of financial instability. External imbalances have played an additional role, but more so in the pre-WWII era of low financialization than today.

Suggested Citation

  • Òscar Jordà & Moritz Schularick & Alan M Taylor, 2011. "Financial Crises, Credit Booms, and External Imbalances: 140 Years of Lessons," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 59(2), pages 340-378, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:imfecr:v:59:y:2011:i:2:p:340-378
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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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