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Leverage and Deepening Business Cycle Skewness

Listed author(s):
  • Jensen, Henrik
  • Petrella, Ivan
  • Ravn, Søren Hove
  • Santoro, Emiliano

We document that the U.S. economy has been characterized by an increasingly negative business cycle asymmetry over the last three decades. This finding can be explained by the concurrent increase in the financial leverage of households and firms. To support this view, we devise and estimate a dynamic general equilibrium model with collateralized borrowing and occasionally binding credit constraints. Higher leverage increases the likelihood that constraints become slack in the face of expansionary shocks, while contractionary shocks are further amplified due to binding constraints. As a result, booms become progressively smoother and more prolonged than busts. We are therefore able to reconcile a more negatively skewed business cycle with the Great Moderation in cyclical volatility. Finally, in line with recent empirical evidence, financially-driven expansions lead to deeper contractions, as compared with equally-sized non-financial expansions.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 12239.

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Date of creation: Aug 2017
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12239
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  1. Boz, Emine & Mendoza, Enrique G., 2014. "Financial innovation, the discovery of risk, and the U.S. credit crisis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1-22.
  2. Thomas W. Bates & Kathleen M. Kahle & René M. Stulz, 2009. "Why Do U.S. Firms Hold So Much More Cash than They Used To?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(5), pages 1985-2021, October.
  3. Matthew Chambers & Carlos Garriga & Don E. Schlagenhauf, 2009. "Accounting For Changes In The Homeownership Rate," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(3), pages 677-726, 08.
  4. Jean Boivin & Marc P. Giannoni, 2006. "Has Monetary Policy Become More Effective?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 445-462, August.
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