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The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis

  • Lawrence J. Christiano
  • Roberto Motto
  • Massimo Rostagno

The authors evaluate the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis--that a more accommodative monetary policy could have greatly reduced the severity of the Great Depression. To do this, they first estimate a dynamic, general equilibrium model using data from the 1920s and 1930s. Although the model includes eight shocks, the story it tells about the Great Depression turns out to be a simple and familiar one. The contraction phase was primarily a consequence of a shock that induced a shift away from privately intermediated liabilities, such as demand deposits and liabilities that resemble equity, and towards currency. The slowness of the recovery from the Depression was due to a shock that increased the market power of workers. The authors identify a monetary base rule that responds only to the money demand shocks in the model.

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0318
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