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Household Leverage and the Recession

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  • Callum Jones
  • Virgiliu Midrigan
  • Thomas Philippon

Abstract

We evaluate and partially challenge the ‘household leverage’ view of the Great Recession. In the data, employment and consumption declined more in states where household debt declined more. We study a model where liquidity constraints amplify the response of consumption and employment to changes in debt. We estimate the model with Bayesian methods combining state and aggregate data. Changes in household credit limits explain 40% of the differential rise and fall of employment across states, but a small fraction of the aggregate employment decline in 2008-2010. Nevertheless, since household deleveraging was gradual, credit shocks greatly slowed the recovery.

Suggested Citation

  • Callum Jones & Virgiliu Midrigan & Thomas Philippon, 2011. "Household Leverage and the Recession," NBER Working Papers 16965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16965
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • G0 - Financial Economics - - General
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises

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