IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/17896.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Inequality Lead to a Financial Crisis?

Author

Listed:
  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Christopher M. Meissner

Abstract

The recent global crisis has sparked interest in the relationship between income inequality, credit booms, and financial crises. Rajan (2010) and Kumhof and Rancière (2011) propose that rising inequality led to a credit boom and eventually to a financial crisis in the US in the first decade of the 21st century as it did in the 1920s. Data from 14 advanced countries between 1920 and 2000 suggest these are not general relationships. Credit booms heighten the probability of a banking crisis, but we find no evidence that a rise in top income shares leads to credit booms. Instead, low interest rates and economic expansions are the only two robust determinants of credit booms in our data set. Anecdotal evidence from US experience in the 1920s and in the years up to 2007 and from other countries does not support the inequality, credit, crisis nexus. Rather, it points back to a familiar boom-bust pattern of declines in interest rates, strong growth, rising credit, asset price booms and crises.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Christopher M. Meissner, 2012. "Does Inequality Lead to a Financial Crisis?," NBER Working Papers 17896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17896
    Note: DAE ME
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17896.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Daniela Klingebiel & Maria Soledad Martinez-Peria, 2001. "Is the crisis problem growing more severe?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 51-82, April.
    2. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    3. Moritz Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2012. "Credit Booms Gone Bust: Monetary Policy, Leverage Cycles, and Financial Crises, 1870-2008," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1029-1061, April.
    4. Marco Terrones & Enrique G. Mendoza, 2008. "An Anatomy of Credit Booms; Evidence From Macro Aggregates and Micro Data," IMF Working Papers 08/226, International Monetary Fund.
    5. James Lothian, 2011. "Why Money Matters: A Fourth Natural Experiment," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 179-187, April.
    6. Eugene N. White, 2014. "Lessons from the Great American Real Estate Boom and Bust of the 1920s," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and Mortgage Markets in Historical Perspective, pages 115-158 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1999. "Monetary policy and asset price volatility," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 77-128.
    8. Roine, Jesper & Vlachos, Jonas & Waldenström, Daniel, 2009. "The long-run determinants of inequality: What can we learn from top income data?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 974-988, August.
    9. Martha L. Olney, 1999. "Avoiding Default: The Role of Credit in the Consumption Collapse of 1930," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 319-335.
    10. Michael Kumhof & Romain Rancière & Pablo Winant, 2015. "Inequality, Leverage, and Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1217-1245, March.
    11. Barlevy, Gadi & Tsiddon, Daniel, 2006. "Earnings inequality and the business cycle," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 55-89, January.
    12. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1994. "The UK Consumption Boom of the Late 1980s: Aggregate Implications of Microeconomic Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1269-1302, November.
    13. Olney, Martha L., 1989. "Credit as a Production-Smoothing Device: The Case of Automobiles, 1913–1938," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(02), pages 377-391, June.
    14. Bordo, Michael D & Jeanne, Olivier, 2002. "Monetary Policy and Asset Prices: Does 'Benign Neglect' Make Sense?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(2), pages 139-164, Summer.
    15. Mishkin, Frederic S., 1978. "The Household Balance Sheet and the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(04), pages 918-937, December.
    16. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128.
    17. Philip Lowe & Claudio Borio, 2002. "Asset prices, financial and monetary stability: exploring the nexus," BIS Working Papers 114, Bank for International Settlements.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17896. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.