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Real Effects of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Is it a Demand or a Finance Shock?

  • Hui Tong
  • Shang-Jin Wei

We develop a methodology to study whether and how a financial-sector crisis can spill over to the real economy, and apply it to the case of the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis. If there is a spillover, does it manifest itself primarily by reducing consumer confidence and consumer demand? Is there also a supply-side channel through a tightened liquidity constraint faced by non-financial firms? Since most firms appear to have much larger cash holdings than in the past, some suggest that a liquidity constraint is not likely to be a significant factor for non-financial firms. We propose a methodology to estimate the importance of these two channels for spillovers. We first propose an index of a firm's sensitivity to a shock to consumer confidence, based on its response to the 9/11 shock in 2001. We then construct a separate firm-level index on financial constraint based on Whited and Wu (2006). As a robustness check, we also construct an alternative sector-level index of a firm's intrinsic demand for external finance, based on the work of Rajan and Zingales (1998). We find robust evidence suggesting that both channels are at work, but that a tightened liquidity squeeze appears to be economically more important than reduced consumer confidence or spending in explaining cross-firm differences in stock price declines.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14205.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14205
Note: CF IFM
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  1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2008. "Is the 2007 US Sub-prime Financial Crisis So Different? An International Historical Comparison," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 339-44, May.
  2. Owen Lamont & Christopher Polk & Jesus Saa-Requejo, 1997. "Financial Constraints and Stock Returns," NBER Working Papers 6210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dominguez, Kathryn M.E. & Tesar, Linda L., 2006. "Exchange rate exposure," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 188-218, January.
  4. Kathryn M. E. Dominguez & Linda L. Tesar, 2001. "A Reexamination of Exchange-Rate Exposure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 396-399, May.
  5. Lakonishok, Josef & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. " Contrarian Investment, Extrapolation, and Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1541-78, December.
  6. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, . "Financial Dependence and Growth," CRSP working papers 344, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  7. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-65, June.
  8. Timothy Erickson & Toni M. Whited, 2000. "Measurement Error and the Relationship between Investment and q," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1027-1057, October.
  9. Dell'Ariccia, Giovanni & Detragiache, Enrica & Rajan, Raghuram, 2008. "The real effect of banking crises," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 89-112, January.
  10. Borensztein, Eduardo & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2002. "Financial crisis and credit crunch in Korea: evidence from firm-level data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 853-875, May.
  11. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2008. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the 2007 Mortgage Default Crisis," NBER Working Papers 13936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
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