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Inspecting the Mechanism Leverage and the Great Recession in the Eurozone


  • Philippe Martin

    (Département d'économie)

  • Thomas Philippon

    (Department of Mechanical Engineering)


We provide a first comprehensive account of the dynamics of Eurozone countries from the creation of the Euro to the Great recession. We model each country as an open economy within a monetary union and analyze the dynamics of private leverage, fiscal policy and spreads. Our parsimonious model can replicate the time-series for nominal GDP, employment, and net exports of Eurozone countries between 2000 and 2012. We then ask how periphery countries would have fared with: (i) more conservative fiscal policies; macro-prudential tools to control private leverage; (iii) a central bank acting earlier to limit sovereign spreads; and (iv) the possibility to recoup the competitiveness they lost in the boom. To perform these counterfactual experiments, we use U.S. states as a control group that did not suffer from a sudden stop. We find that periphery countries could have stabilized their employment if they had followed more conservative fiscal policies during the boom. This is especially true in Greece. For Ireland, however, given the size of the private leverage boom, such a policy would have required buying back almost all of the public debt. Macro-prudential policy would have been helpful, especially in Ireland and Spain. However, in presence of a spending bias in fiscal rules, macro-prudential policies would have led to less prudent fiscal policies in the boom. Central bank actions would have stabilized employment during the bust but not public debt. Finally, if these countries had been able to regain in the bust the competitiveness they lost in the boom, they would have experienced a shorter and milder recession.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Martin & Thomas Philippon, 2014. "Inspecting the Mechanism Leverage and the Great Recession in the Eurozone," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2014-16, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/78jqkj5bb48tgb9ah9a0kqhplu

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ucp:macann:doi:10.1086/690239 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Thomas Philippon & Dimitri Vayanos, 2017. "The Analytics of the Greek Crisis," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-81.
    3. Philippe Martin & Thomas Philippon, 2017. "Inspecting the Mechanism: Leverage and the Great Recession in the Eurozone," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/59bp0vqv2b8, Sciences Po.
    4. Pappa, Evi & Sajedi, Rana & Vella, Eugenia, 2015. "Fiscal consolidation with tax evasion and corruption," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(S1), pages 56-75.
    5. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi & Emil Verner, 2017. "Household Debt and Business Cycles Worldwide," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1755-1817.
    6. Clancy, Daragh & Merola, Rossana, 2017. "Countercyclical capital rules for small open economies," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 54(PB), pages 332-351.
    7. Nicoletta Batini & Giovanni Melina & Stefania Villa, 2016. "Fiscal Buffers, Private Debt, and Stagnation; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," IMF Working Papers 16/104, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Coeuré, B., 2015. "Completing the single market in capital," Financial Stability Review, Banque de France, issue 19, pages 15-24, April.
    9. Fritz Breuss, 2015. "In Search of Growth in a Future with Diminished Expectations. The Case of Austria," WIFO Working Papers 493, WIFO.
    10. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Philippon, Thomas & Vayanos, Dimitri, 2016. "The analytics of the Greek crisis: celebratory centenary issue," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67368, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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