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Financial Intermediation and The Great Depression: A Multiple Equilibrium Interpretation

  • Russell Cooper
  • Joao Ejarque

This paper explores the behavior of the U.S. economy during the interwar period from the perspective of a model in which the existence of non-convexities in the intermediation process gives rise to a multiplicity of equilibria. The resulting indeterminancy is resolved through a sunspot process which leads to endogenous fluctuations in aggregate economic activity. From this perspective, the Depression period is represented as a regime shift associated with a financial crisis. Our model economy has properties which are broadly consistent with observations over the interwar period. Contrary to observation, the model predicts a negative correlation of consumption and investment as well as a highly volatile capital stock. Our model of financial crisis reproduces many aspects of the Great Depression though the model predicts a much sharper fall in investment than is observed in the data. Modifications to our model (adding durable goods and a capacity utilization choice) do not overcome these deficiencies.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5130.

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Date of creation: May 1995
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Vol 43 (1995), pp. 285-323.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5130
Note: EFG
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  1. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 1994. "Financial Intermediation and Aggregate Fluctuations: A Quantative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "Observable Implications of Models with Multiple Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1431-37, November.
  3. Garcia, R. & Perron, P., 1990. "An Anlysis Of The Real Interest Rate Under Regime Shifts," Papers 353, Princeton, Department of Economics - Econometric Research Program.
  4. Smith, Bruce D, 1991. "Bank Panics, Suspensions, and Geography: Some Notes on the "Contagion of Fear" in Banking," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 230-48, April.
  5. Benhabib, J. & Farmer, R.E.A, 1991. "Indeterminacy and Increasing Returns," Papers 165, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
  6. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1991. "Communication, commitment and growth," Economics Working Papers 1, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Ben S. Bernanke, 1994. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," NBER Working Papers 4814, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1992. "Macroeconomic Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," Papers 527, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  9. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1982. "Time-Separable Preference and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 0888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Roger E.A. Farmer & Jang Ting Guo, 1992. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," UCLA Economics Working Papers 680, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Gary Gorton, 1986. "Banking panics and business cycles," Working Papers 86-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  12. Robert E. Hall, 1986. "The Role of Consumption in Economic Fluctuations," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 237-266 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
  14. Romer, Christina D., 1988. "World War I and the postwar depression A reinterpretation based on alternative estimates of GNP," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 91-115, July.
  15. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  16. Satyajit Chatterjee & Russell W. Cooper & B. Ravikumar, 1993. "Strategic complementarity in business formation: aggregate fluctuations and sunspot equilibria," Working Papers 93-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  17. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Corbae, Dean, 1992. "Endogenous Market Participation and the General Equilibrium Value of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 615-46, June.
  18. Mark Gertler, 1988. "Financial structure and aggregate economic activity: an overview," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 559-596.
  19. Fulghieri, Paolo & Rovelli, Riccardo, 1998. "Capital markets, financial intermediaries, and liquidity supply," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(9), pages 1157-1180, September.
  20. Greenwood, J. & Jovanovic, B., 1990. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations Working Papers 9002, University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations.
  21. Ben S. Bernanke, 1983. "Non-Monetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 1054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Cooper, Russell & John, Andrew, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-63, August.
  23. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Edward C. Prescott & Terry Fitzgerald & Fernando Alvarez, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Staff Report 153, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  24. Fisher, Jonas D M, 1999. "Credit Market Imperfections and the Heterogeneous Response of Firms to Monetary Shocks," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(2), pages 187-211, May.
  25. Azariadis, Costas & Smith, Bruce, 1998. "Financial Intermediation and Regime Switching in Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 516-36, June.
  26. John Dagsvik & Boyan Jovanovic, 1991. "Was the Great Depression a Low-Level Equilibrium?," NBER Working Papers 3726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Romer, Christina D, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624, August.
  28. 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.
  29. Nathan Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "Appendix B: Historical Data," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 781-850 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
  31. Freeman, Scott, 1988. "Banking as the Provision of Liquidity," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 45-64, January.
  32. repec:cup:macdyn:v:4:y:2000:i:4:p:423-47 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
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