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Inspecting the Mechanism Leverage and the Great Recession in the Eurozone

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  • Philippe Martin

    (Département d'économie)

  • Thomas Philippon

    (Department of Mechanical Engineering)

Abstract

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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    1. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:7:p:1904-37 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," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(7), pages 1904-1937, July.
    4. 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.
    5. Sophie Piton, 2018. "Do Unit Labor Costs Matter? A Decomposition Exercise on European Data," PSE Working Papers halshs-01785345, HAL.
    6. Sophie Piton, 2017. "Economic Integration and the Non-tradable Sector: The European Experience," 2017 Papers ppi361, Job Market Papers.
    7. Michael Funke & Rongrong Sun & Linxu Zhu, "undated". "The Credit Risk of Chinese Households – A Micro-Level Assessment," CFDS Discussion Paper Series 2018/3, Center for Financial Development and Stability at Henan University, Kaifeng, Henan, China.
    8. Marcin Bielecki & Michał Brzoza-Brzezina & Marcin Kolasa & Krzysztof Makarski, 2017. "Could the boom-bust in the eurozone periphery have been prevented?," GRAPE Working Papers 17, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
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    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:

    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F44 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Business Cycles
    • F45 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Macroeconomic Issues of Monetary Unions
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises

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