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Historical Perspectives on the Monetary Transmission Mechanism

  • Jeffrey A. Miron
  • Christina D. Romer
  • David N. Weil

This paper examines changes over time in the importance of the lending channel in the transmission of monetary shocks to the real economy. We first use a simple extension of the Bernanke-Blinder model to isolate the observable factors that affect the strength of the lending channel. We then show that based on changes in the structure of banks assets, reserve requirements, and the composition of external firm finance, the lending channel should have been stronger before 1929 than during the post-World War II period, especially the first half of this period. Finally, we demonstrate that conventional indicators of the importance of the lending channel, such as the spread between the loan rate and the bond rate and the correlation between loans and output, do not show the predicted decline in the importance of lending over time. From this we conclude that either the traditional indicators are not useful measures of the strength of the lending channel or that the lending channel has not been quantitatively important in any era.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4326.

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Date of creation: Apr 1993
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Monetary Policy, N. Gregory Mankiw, ed., (Chicago; University of Chicago Press: 1994).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4326
Note: ME
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-76, June.
  2. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1991. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," NBER Working Papers 3892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Raymond W. Goldsmith & Robert E. Lipsey & Morris Mendelson, 1963. "Studies in the National Balance Sheet of the United States, Volume 2," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold63-2, December.
  4. Bernanke, Ben S & Blinder, Alan S, 1988. "Credit, Money, and Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 435-39, May.
  5. Hoover, Kevin D. & Perez, Stephen J., 1994. "Post hoc ergo propter once more an evaluation of 'does monetary policy matter?' in the spirit of James Tobin," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 47-74, August.
  6. Michael Dotsey & Max Reid, 1992. "Oil shocks, monetary policy, and economic activity," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Jul, pages 14-27.
  7. Claudia Goldin & Hugh Rockoff, 1992. "Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold92-1, December.
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