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Financial stress and economic dynamics: the transmission of crises

  • Kirstin Hubrich
  • Robert J. Tetlow

The recent financial crisis and the associated decline in economic activity have raised some important questions about economic activity and its links to the financial sector. This paper introduces an index of financial stress--an index that was used in real time by the staff of the Federal Reserve Board to monitor the crisis--and shows how stress interacts with real activity, inflation and monetary policy. We define what we call a stress event--a period affected by stress in both shock variances and model coefficients--and describe how financial stress affects macroeconomic dynamics. We also examine what constitutes a useful and credible measure of stress and the role of monetary policy. We address these questions using a richly parameterized Markov-switching VAR model, estimated using Bayesian methods. Our results show that allowing for time variation is important: the constant-parameter, constant-shock-variance model is a poor characterization of the data. We find that periods of high stress coefficients in general, and stress events in particular, line up well with financial events in recent U.S. history. We find that a shift to a stress event is highly detrimental to the outlook for the real economy, and that conventional monetary policy is relatively weak during such periods. Finally, we argue that our findings have implications for DSGE modeling of financial events insofar as researchers wish to capture phenomena more consequential than garden-variety business cycle fluctuations, pointing away from linearized DSGE models toward either MS-DSGE models or fully nonlinear models solved with global methods.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2012-82.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2012-82
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  1. Francesco Bianchi, 2009. "Regime Switches, Agents’ Beliefs, and Post-World War II U.S. Macroeconomic Dynamics," 2009 Meeting Papers 198, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Mark A. Carlson & Kurt F. Lewis & William R. Nelson, 2012. "Using policy intervention to identify financial stress," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Gilchrist, Simon & Yankov, Vladimir & Zakrajsek, Egon, 2009. "Credit market shocks and economic fluctuations: Evidence from corporate bond and stock markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 471-493, May.
  4. Sims, Christopher A. & Waggoner, Daniel F. & Zha, Tao, 2008. "Methods for inference in large multiple-equation Markov-switching models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 146(2), pages 255-274, October.
  5. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Waggoner, Daniel F. & Zha, Tao, 2012. "Confronting model misspecification in macroeconomics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 171(2), pages 167-184.
  7. Sylvia Kaufmann & Maria Teresa Valderrama, 2010. "The Role Of Credit Aggregates And Asset Prices In The Transmission Mechanism: A Comparison Between The Euro Area And The Usa," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 78(4), pages 345-377, 07.
  8. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  9. Javier Bianchi, 2011. "Overborrowing and Systemic Externalities in the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3400-3426, December.
  10. Vasco Cúrdia & Michael Woodford, 2009. "Credit frictions and optimal monetary policy," BIS Working Papers 278, Bank for International Settlements.
  11. Troy Davig & Craig Hakkio, 2010. "What is the effect of financial stress on economic activity," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 35-62.
  12. Zhigu He & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2012. "A Model of Capital and Crises," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 735-777.
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