IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/2547.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Did Monetary Forces Cause the Great Depression?

Author

Listed:
  • Ritschl, Albrecht
  • Woitek, Ulrich

Abstract

This paper recasts Temin's (1976) question of whether monetary forces caused the Great Depression in a modern time series framework. We analyse money-income causalities and predict US output in a recursive Bayesian framework, allowing for information updating and time-varying coefficients. The predictive power of money aggregates and the Fed discount rate is in general very weak and collapses after the crisis of the gold standard in 1931. In contrast, non-monetary variables, particularly leading indicators of residential construction and equipment investment, have impressive forecasting power, forecasting almost half the output decline already in mid-1929. Our recursive framework also allows examination of the stability of our estimated dynamic parameters. Recursive estimates of the monetary impulse responses exhibit remarkable structural instability and strongly react to monetary regime changes during the depression. This phenomenon is discomforting in the light of the Lucas (1976) critique, as it suggests that the money/income relationship may be endogenous to policy and was not in the set of deep parameters of the US economy. Given the instability and poor predictive power of monetary instruments and the strong showing of leading indicators of real activity, we remain skeptical about a monetary interpretation of the Great Depression in the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Ritschl, Albrecht & Woitek, Ulrich, 2000. "Did Monetary Forces Cause the Great Depression?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2547, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2547
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=2547
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mayer, Thomas, 1978. "Money and the Great Depression: A critique of professor Temin's thesis," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 127-145, April.
    2. Klug, Adam & Landon-Lane, John S. & White, Eugene N., 2005. "How could everyone have been so wrong? Forecasting the Great Depression with the railroads," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 27-55, January.
    3. Nathan Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "Appendix B: Historical Data," NBER Chapters,in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 781-850 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Evans, Martin & Wachtel, Paul, 1993. "Were price changes during the Great Depression anticipated? : Evidence from nominal interest rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 3-34, August.
    5. Hamilton, James D, 1992. "Was the Deflation during the Great Depression Anticipated? Evidence from the Commodity Futures Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 157-178, March.
    6. Thomas Doan & Robert B. Litterman & Christopher A. Sims, 1983. "Forecasting and Conditional Projection Using Realistic Prior Distributions," NBER Working Papers 1202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Dominguez, Kathryn M & Fair, Ray C & Shapiro, Matthew D, 1988. "Forecasting the Depression: Harvard versus Yale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 595-612, September.
    8. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
    9. Uhlig, Harald, 1994. "What Macroeconomists Should Know about Unit Roots: A Bayesian Perspective," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(3-4), pages 645-671, August.
    10. Sims, Christopher A & Uhlig, Harald, 1991. "Understanding Unit Rooters: A Helicopter Tour," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1591-1599, November.
    11. repec:cup:etheor:v:10:y:1994:i:3-4:p:645-71 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Eric M. Leeper & Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1996. "What Does Monetary Policy Do?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 1-78.
    13. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-384, March.
    14. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
    15. Edward C. Prescott, 1999. "Some observations on the Great Depression," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 25-29.
    16. Robert J. Gordon & James A. Wilcox, 1978. "Monetarist Interpretations of the Great Depression: An Evaluation and Critique," NBER Working Papers 0300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Ahmadi, Pooyan Amir & Ritschl, Albrecht, 2009. "Depression Econometrics: A FAVAR Model of Monetary Policy During the Great Depression," CEPR Discussion Papers 7546, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Ritschl, Albrecht & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2003. "Endogeneity of Currency Areas and Trade Blocs: Evidence from the Inter-war Period," CEPR Discussion Papers 4112, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Barry Eichengreen, 2002. "Still Fettered After All These Years," NBER Working Papers 9276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conditional Forecasts; Great Depression; Money/Income Causality; Recursive Estimates;

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2547. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.