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The Theory of Credit and Macro-economic Stability

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  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

Abstract

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, there is a growing consensus, even among central bank officials, concerning the limitations of monetary policy. This paper provides an explanation for the ineffectiveness of monetary policy, and in doing so provides a new framework for thinking about monetary policy and macro-economic activity. What matters is not so much the money supply or the T-bill interest rate, but the availability of credit, and the terms at which credit is made available. The latter variables may not move in tandem with the former. In particular, the spread between the T bill rate and the lending rate may increase, so even as the T bill rate decreases, the lending rate increases. An increase in credit availability may not lead to more spending on produced goods, but increased prices for land or other fixed assets; it can go to increased margins associated with increases in speculative activity; or it may go to spending abroad rather than at home. The paper explains the inadequacy of theories based on the zero low bound, and argues that the ineffectiveness of monetary policy is more related to the multiple alternative uses—beyond the purchase of domestically produced goods—of additional liquidity and to its adverse distributional consequences. The paper shows that while monetary policy is less effective than has been widely presumed, it is also more distortionary, identifying several distinct distortions.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2016. "The Theory of Credit and Macro-economic Stability," NBER Working Papers 22837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22837
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Guzman & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2016. "Pseudo-wealth and Consumption Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 22838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gatti, Domenico Delli & Gallegati, Mauro & Greenwald, Bruce C. & Russo, Alberto & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2012. "Mobility constraints, productivity trends, and extended crises," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 375-393.
    3. Martin L. Weitzman, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 477-491.
    4. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2015. "New Theoretical Perspectives on the Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals: Part I. The Wealth Residual," NBER Working Papers 21189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2015. "New Theoretical Perspectives on the Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals: Part IV: Land and Credit," NBER Working Papers 21192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Tariffs vs . Quotas as Revenue Raising Devices under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 975-981, December.
    7. George A. Akerlof & Olivier Blanchard & David Romer & Joseph E. Stiglitz (ed.), 2014. "What Have We Learned? Macroeconomic Policy After the Crisis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262027348, March.
    8. Galbraith, James K., 2012. "Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199855650.
    9. Olivier Giovannoni, 2014. "What Do We Know About the Labor Share and the Profit Share? Part III: Measures and Structural Factors," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_805, Levy Economics Institute.
    10. George A. Akerlof & Robert J. Shiller, 2015. "Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10534.
    11. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2015. "New Theoretical Perspectives on the Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals: Part II: Equilibrium Wealth Distributions," NBER Working Papers 21190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    13. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2015. "New Theoretical Perspectives on the Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals: Part III: Life Cycle Savings vs. Inherited Savings," NBER Working Papers 21191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. F. H. Hahn, 1966. "Equilibrium Dynamics with Heterogeneous Capital Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 633-646.
    15. Karl Shell & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1967. "The Allocation of Investment in a Dynamic Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(4), pages 592-609.
    16. Bruce C. Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-264.
    17. Joseph Stiglitz & Jungyoll Yun, 2013. "Optimal Provision of Loans and Insurance Against Unemployment From A Lifetime Perspective," NBER Working Papers 19064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    1. repec:bla:ehsrev:v:70:y:2017:i:4:p:1051-1071 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:col:000107:017284 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:bdr:ensayo:y:2019:i:90:p:1-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Avner Offer, 2017. "The market turn: from social democracy to market liberalism," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1051-1071, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General

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