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Credit Channel or Credit Actions? An Interpretation of the Postwar Transmission Mechanism

  • Christina D. Romer
  • David H. Romer

This paper shows that the disproportionate impact of tight monetary policy on banks' ability to lend is largely the consequence of Federal Reserve actions aimed at reducing bank loans directly, rather than an inherent feature of the monetary transmission mechanism. We provide two types of evidence for this conclusion. First, a detailed examination of nine postwar episodes of contractionary monetary policy shows that while short-term interest rates always rose in response to tight policy, banks typically found ways of maintaining lending despite the falls in reserves. Banks' ability to lend was particularly affected by tight policy only when the Federal Reserve undertook actions, such as special reserve requirements, moral suasion, or explicit credit controls, to restrain bank lending directly. Second, simple regressions show that Federal Reserve credit actions have large and significant effects on the composition of external finance between bank loans and commercial paper and on the spread between the prime bank loan rate and the commercial paper rate, and that a bank credit channel of monetary transmission is not needed to explain the movements in these variables in response to tight policy.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4485.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4485.

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Date of creation: Oct 1993
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Publication status: published as Changing Capital Markets: Implications for Monetary Policy: The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, August 19-21, 1993.pp. 71-116
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4485
Note: ME EFG
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  1. Albert M. Wojnilower, 1980. "The Central Role of Credit Crunches in Recent Financial History," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(2), pages 277-340.
  2. Gertler, M. & Gilchrist, S., 1992. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," Working Papers 92-08, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  3. Raymond E. Owens & Stacey L. Schreft, 1993. "Identifying credit crunches," Working Paper 93-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  4. Anil K. Kashyap & Owen A. Lamont & Jeremy C. Stein, 1993. "Credit conditions and the cyclical behavior of inventories," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 93-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Stephen D. Oliner & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1993. "Is there a bank credit channel for monetary policy?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-8, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1993. "The role of credit market imperfections in the monetary transmission mechanism: arguments and evidence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-5, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Barry Bosworth, 1989. "Institutional Change and the Efficacy of Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 77-124.
  8. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 121-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John H. Boyd & Mark Gertler, 1993. "U.S. Commercial Banking: Trends, Cycles, and Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1993, Volume 8, pages 319-377 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Anil K Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein & David W. Wilcox, 1992. "Monetary Policy and Credit Conditions: Evidence From the Composition of External Finance," NBER Working Papers 4015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Ben S. Bernanke & Cara S. Lown, 1991. "The Credit Crunch," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 205-248.
  13. Jeffrey A. Miron & Christina D. Romer & David N. Weil, 1993. "Historical Perspectives on the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," NBER Working Papers 4326, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Richard Cantor & John Wenninger, 1993. "Perspective on the credit slowdown," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Spr, pages 3-36.
  15. Stephen D. Oliner & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1996. "Is there a broad credit channel for monetary policy?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-13.
  16. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1990. "New Evidence on the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(1), pages 149-214.
  17. Bernanke, Ben S & Blinder, Alan S, 1992. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 901-21, September.
  18. Ben S. Bernanke, 1993. "Credit in the macroeconomy," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Spr, pages 50-70.
  19. Anil Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 1993. "Monetary Policy and Bank Lending," NBER Working Papers 4317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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