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Did sunspot cause the Great Depression?

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  • Harrison, Sharon G.
  • Weder, Mark

Abstract

We apply a dynamic general equilibrium model to the period of the Great Depression. In particular, we examine a modification of the real business cycle model in which the possibility of indeterminacy of equilibria arises. In other words, agents' self-fulfilling expectations can serve as a primary impulse behind fluctuations. We find that the model, driven only by these measured sunspot shocks, can explain well the entire Depression era. That is, the decline from 1929-1932, the subsequent slow recovery, and the recession that occurred in 1937-1938.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb373:200235
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christina D. Romer, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624.
    2. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1999. "Monetary policy shocks: What have we learned and to what end?," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 65-148 Elsevier.
    3. Christina D. Romer, 1993. "The Nation in Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 19-39, Spring.
    4. Bernanke, Ben S & Parkinson, Martin L, 1991. "Procyclical Labor Productivity and Competing Theories of the Business Cycle: Some Evidence from Interwar U.S. Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 439-459, June.
    5. Christopher J. Erceg & Michael D. Bordo & Charles L. Evans, 2000. "Money, Sticky Wages, and the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1447-1463, December.
    6. Chauvet, Marcelle & Guo, Jang-Ting, 2003. "Sunspots, Animal Spirits, And Economic Fluctuations," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(01), pages 140-169, February.
    7. Dominguez, Kathryn M & Fair, Ray C & Shapiro, Matthew D, 1988. "Forecasting the Depression: Harvard versus Yale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 595-612, September.
    8. Ben S. Bernanke, 1990. "On the predictive power of interest rates and interest rate spreads," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 51-68.
    9. Salyer, Kevin D. & Sheffrin, Steven M., 1998. "Spotting sunspots: Some evidence in support of models with self-fulfilling prophecies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 511-523, October.
    10. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, January.
    11. Farmer Roger E. A. & Guo Jang-Ting, 1994. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 42-72, June.
    12. Wen, Yi, 1998. "Capacity Utilization under Increasing Returns to Scale," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 7-36, July.
    13. Benhabib, Jess & Farmer, Roger E.A., 1999. "Indeterminacy and sunspots in macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 387-448 Elsevier.
    14. Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195101133.
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    16. Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "Why did productivity fall so much during the Great Depression?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
    17. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Raff, Daniel M. G., 1991. "Intra-Industry Heterogeneity and the Great Depression: The American Motor Vehicles Industry, 1929–1935," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 317-331, June.
    18. Cooper, Russell & Ejarque, Joao, 1995. "Financial intermediation and the Great Depression: a multiple equilibrium interpretation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 285-323, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2008. "Great Expectations and the End of the Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1476-1516, September.
    2. Burda, Michael C. & Severgnini, Battista, 2014. "Solow residuals without capital stocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 154-171.
    3. Tarek Coury & Yi Wen, 2007. "Global indeterminacy in locally determinate RBC models," Working Papers 2007-029, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    4. 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.
    5. Mark Weder, 2006. "The Role Of Preference Shocks And Capital Utilization In The Great Depression," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1247-1268, November.
    6. Nadenichek, Jon, 2007. "Consumer confidence and economic stagnation in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 338-346, August.
    7. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott(), 2007. "Great depressions of the twentieth century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, number 2007gdott.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Great Depression; Sunspots; Dynamic General Equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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