2017-23 | September 2017
Leading up to the Great Recession, the U.S. economy experienced a massive expansion of credit, a slowdown in productivity growth, and a rapid increase in income inequality. All of these developments may have contributed to an unusual buildup of financial instability. This paper explores the contribution of each of these three developments in explaining financial crises using long-run historical data for 17 advanced economies. Previous research showed that credit growth is a robust predictor of financial fragility. I find that changes in top income shares and productivity growth are strong early warning indicators as well. In fact, changes in top income shares outperform credit as crises predictors. Moreover, financial recessions that are preceded by strong increases in income inequality or low productivity growth are also associated with deeper and slower recoveries. Overall, the results indicate that both the productive capacity of an economy and the distribution of income matter for financial stability.
2017-22 | November 2017
Financial crises are born out of prolonged credit booms and depressed productivity. At times, they are initiated by relatively small shocks. Consistent with these empirical observations, this paper extends a standard macroeconomic model to include financial intermediation, long-term defaultable loans, and occasional financial crises. Within this framework, crises are typically preceded by prolonged boom periods. During such episodes, intermediaries expand their lending and leverage, thereby building up financial fragility. Crises are generally initiated by a moderate adverse shock that puts pressure on intermediaries’ balance sheets, triggering a creditor run, a contraction in new lending, and ultimately a deep and persistent recession.
2017-09 | May 2017
This paper estimates the time-varying responses of stock and house prices to changes in monetary policy in the United States. To this end, I augment a time-varying vector autoregressive model (VAR) with a series of monetary policy surprises obtained from federal funds futures, as a proxy for structural monetary policy shocks. The series of surprises enters the model as an exogenous variable and I show analytically that this approach gives identical relative impulse responses compared with an identification that uses the proxy as an external instrument within a constant parameter VAR. However, the exogenous variable approach allows for a convenient and tractable extension to a time-varying parameter VAR that is estimated with standard Bayesian methods. The results show that stock and house prices have been less responsive to monetary policy shocks during periods of high and rising asset prices. Moreover, I find that attempts by the Federal Reserve to lean against the house price boom before the Great Recession would have come with the risk of large deviations from its output target.