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Financial Intermediation and The Great Depression: A Multiple Equilibrium Interpretation

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  • Russell Cooper
  • Joao Ejarque

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 1995. "Financial Intermediation and The Great Depression: A Multiple Equilibrium Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 5130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5130
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    Cited by:

    1. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2002. "Did sunspot cause the Great Depression?," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2002,35, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    2. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist & Fabio M. Natalucci, 2007. "External Constraints on Monetary Policy and the Financial Accelerator," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 295-330, March.
    3. Carranza, Luis & Galdon-Sanchez, Jose E., 2004. "Financial intermediation, variability and the development process," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 27-54, February.
    4. Been-Lon Chen, 2007. "Multiple BGPs in a Growth Model with Habit Persistence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(1), pages 25-48, February.
    5. Russell W. Cooper & Dean Corbae, 2001. "Financial collapse and active monetary policy: a lesson from the Great Depression," Staff Report 289, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    6. Russell W. Cooper, 1997. "Business Cycles: Theory, Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 5994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. KOBAYASHI Keiichiro, 2012. "Banking in the Lagos-Wright Monetary Economy," Discussion papers 12054, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    8. Carol Scotese Lehr, 2001. "Banks and Output Fluctuations," Working Papers 0101, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics.
    9. Been-Lon Chen & Mei Hsu & Chia-Hui Lu, 2007. "Status and Multiple Growth Regimes," IEAS Working Paper : academic research 07-A010, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
    10. Galdón Sánchez, José E. & Carranza, Luis, 1997. "Multiple equilibrium, variability and the development process," UC3M Working papers. Economics 6059, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    11. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 1-18, January.
    12. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2005. "Social interactions and macroeconomics," Working papers 5, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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    14. Cooper, R. & Corbae, D., 1997. "Financial Fragility and the Great Depression," Working Papers 97-08, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
    15. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2006. "Did sunspot forces cause the Great Depression?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1327-1339, October.
    16. Cook, David, 1999. "The liquidity effect and money demand," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 377-390, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy

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