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The unreliability of credit-to-GDP ratio gaps in real-time: Implications for countercyclical capital buffers

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  • Rochelle M. Edge
  • Ralf R. Meisenzahl

Abstract

Macroeconomists have long recognized that activity-gap measures are unreliable in real time and that this can present serious difficulties for stabilization policy. This paper investigates whether the credit-to-GDP ratio gap, which has been proposed as a reference point for accumulating countercyclical capital buffers, is subject to similar problems. We find that ex-post revisions to the U.S. credit-to-GDP ratio gap are sizable and as large as the gap itself, and that the main source of these revisions stems from the unreliability of end-of-sample estimates of the series' trend rather than from revised estimates of the underlying data. The paper considers the potential costs of gap mismeasurement. We find that the volume of lending that may incorrectly be curtailed is potentially large, although loan interest-rates appear to increase only modestly.

Suggested Citation

  • Rochelle M. Edge & Ralf R. Meisenzahl, 2011. "The unreliability of credit-to-GDP ratio gaps in real-time: Implications for countercyclical capital buffers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-37, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-37
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Borgy, V. & Clerc, L. & Renne, J-P., 2009. "Asset-price boom-bust cycles and credit: what is the scope of macro-prudential regulation?," Working papers 263, Banque de France.
    2. Samuel G. Hanson & Anil K. Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 2011. "A Macroprudential Approach to Financial Regulation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
    3. Jose M. Berrospide & Rochelle M. Edge, 2010. "The effects of bank capital on lending: what do we know, and what does it mean?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Keywords

    Bank capital; Bank loans; Business cycles;
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