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Did sunspot cause the Great Depression?

  • Harrison, Sharon G.
  • Weder, Mark

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.

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Paper provided by Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes in its series SFB 373 Discussion Papers with number 2002,35.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb373:200235
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  1. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher J. Erceg & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Money, sticky wages, and the Great Depression," International Finance Discussion Papers 591, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Christina D. Romer, 1993. "The Nation in Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 19-39, Spring.
  3. 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.
  4. Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "Why did productivity fall so much during the Great Depression?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
  5. 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.
  6. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1996. "Returns to scale in U.S. production: estimates and implications," International Finance Discussion Papers 546, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. 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 439-59, June.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Barry Eichengreen, 1992. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number eich92-1.
  11. 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.
  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. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 1995. "Financial Intermediation and The Great Depression: A Multiple Equilibrium Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 5130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Chauvet, Marcelle & Guo, Jang-Ting, 2003. "Sunspots, Animal Spirits, And Economic Fluctuations," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(01), pages 140-169, February.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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