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Household Debt and Business Cycles Worldwide

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  • Emil Verner

    (Princeton University)

  • Amir Sufi

    (University of Chicago)

  • Atif Mian

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

An increase in the household debt to GDP ratio predicts lower GDP growth and higher unemployment in the medium run for an unbalanced panel of 30 countries from 1960 to 2012. Low mortgage spreads are associated with an increase in the household debt to GDP ratio and a decline in subsequent GDP growth, highlighting the importance of credit supply shocks. Economic forecasters systematically over-predict GDP growth at the end of household debt booms, suggesting an important role of flawed expectations formation. The negative relation between the change in household debt to GDP and subsequent output growth is stronger for countries with less flexible exchange rate regimes. We also uncover a global household debt cycle that partly predicts the severity of the global growth slowdown after 2007. Countries with a household debt cycle more correlated with the global household debt cycle experience a sharper decline in growth after an increase in domestic household debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Emil Verner & Amir Sufi & Atif Mian, 2017. "Household Debt and Business Cycles Worldwide," 2017 Meeting Papers 673, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed017:673
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    JEL classification:

    • E17 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • 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
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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