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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
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Publication status: published as Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Vol 43 (1995), pp. 285-323.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5130
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  1. Garcia, Rene & Perron, Pierre, 1996. "An Analysis of the Real Interest Rate under Regime Shifts," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 111-25, February.
  2. Chatterjee, S. & Corbae, D., 1990. "Endogenous Market Participation and the General Equelibrium Value of Money," Working Papers 90-30a, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  3. Mark L. Gertler, 1988. "Financial Structure and Aggregate Economic Activity: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 2559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1984. "Time-Separable Preferences and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 817-839.
  5. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1992. "Communication, commitment, and growth," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 74, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Benhabib Jess & Farmer Roger E. A., 1994. "Indeterminacy and Increasing Returns," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 19-41, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Greenwood, Jeremy & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1988. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," Working Papers 88-12, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  11. 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.
  12. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Edward C. Prescott & Terry J. Fitzgerald & Fernando Alvarez, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Staff Report 153, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Satyajit Chatterjee & Russell Cooper & B. Ravikumar, 1993. "Strategic Complementarity in Business Formation: Aggregate Fluctuations and Sunspot Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 795-811.
  14. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 1994. "Financial Intermediation and Aggregate Fluctuations: A Quantative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Gorton, Gary, 1988. "Banking Panics and Business Cycles," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(4), pages 751-81, December.
  16. Ben S. Bernanke, 1994. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," NBER Working Papers 4814, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. Dagsvik, John & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1994. "Was the Great Depression a low-level equilibrium?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1711-1729, December.
  19. Douglas W. Diamond, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414.
  20. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
  21. 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.
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  23. Hercowitz, Z., 1992. "Macroeconomic Implication of Investment-Specific Technological Change," Papers 13-92, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  24. Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1998. "Credit market imperfections and the heterogeneous response of firms to monetary shocks," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 96-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  25. 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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  27. repec:cup:macdyn:v:4:y:2000:i:4:p:423-47 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1988. "Observable Implications Of Models With Multiple Equilibria," Working Papers 88-20, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  29. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  30. 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.
  31. Russell Cooper & Andrew John, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-463.
  32. 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.
  33. Freeman, Scott, 1988. "Banking as the Provision of Liquidity," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 45-64, January.
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