Explaining the Great Moderation: Credit in the Macroeconomy Revisited
This study in recent history connects macroeconomic performance to financial policies in order to explain the decline in volatility of economic growth in the US since the mid-1980s, which is also known as the ‘Great Moderation’. Existing explanations attribute this to a combination of good policies, good environment, and good luck. This paper hypothesizes that before and during the Great Moderation, changes in the structure and regulation of US financial markets caused a redirection of credit flows, increasing the share of mortgage credit in total credit flows and facilitating the smoothing of volatility in GDP via equity withdrawal and a wealth effect on consumption. Institutional and econometric analysis is employed to assess these hypotheses. This yields substantial corroboration, lending support to a novel ‘policy’ explanation of the Moderation.
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