The current financial crisis: what should we learn from the great depressions of the 20th Century?
Essay from the 2008 Annual Report.
Modeling great depressions: the depression in Finland in the 1990s
This paper is a primer on the great depressions methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (1999, 2007) and Kehoe and Prescott (2002, 2007). We use growth accounting and simple dynamic general equilibrium models to study the depression that occurred in Finland in the early 1990s. We find that the sharp drop in real GDP over the period 1990?93 was driven by a combination of a drop in total factor productivity (TFP) during 1990?92 and of increases in taxes on labor and consumption and increases in government consumption during 1989?94, which drove down hours worked in Finland. We attempt to ...
What can we learn from the current crisis in Argentina?
Currently, Argentina is experiencing what the government describes as a "great depression." Using the "Great Depressions" methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (1999) and Kehoe and Prescott (2002), we find that the primary determinants of both the boom in Argentina in the 1990s and the subsequent depression were changes in productivity, rather than changes in factor inputs. The timing of events links the boom to the currency-board-like Convertibility Plan and the crisis to its collapse. To gain credibility, the Argentine government took measures to make abandoning the plan more ...
What will happen when foreigners stop lending to the United States?
Since the early 1990s, the United States has borrowed heavily from its trading partners. This paper presents an analysis of the impact of an end to this borrowing, an end that could occur suddenly or gradually.
A decade lost and found: Mexico and Chile in the 1980s
Chile and Mexico experienced severe economic crises in the early 1980s. This paper analyzes four possible explanations for why Chile recovered much faster than did Mexico. Comparing data from the two countries allows us to rule out a monetarist explanation, an explanation based on falls in real wages and real exchange rates, and a debt overhang explanation. Using growth accounting, a calibrated growth model, and economic theory, we conclude that the crucial difference between the two countries was the earlier policy reforms in Chile that generated faster productivity growth. The most crucial ...
A self-fulfilling model of Mexico's 1994-95 debt crisis
This paper explores the extent to which the Mexican government's inability to roll over its debt during December 1994 and January 1995 can be modeled as a self-fulfilling debt crisis. In the model there is a crucial interval of debt for which the government, although it finds it optimal to repay old debt if it can sell new debt, finds it optimal to default if it cannot sell new debt. If government debt is in this interval, which we call the crisis zone, then we can construct equilibria in which a crisis can occur stochastically, depending on the realization of a sunspot variable. The size of ...
Bankruptcy and collateral in debt constrained markets
Typical models of bankruptcy and collateral rely on incomplete asset markets. In fact, bankruptcy and collateral add contingencies to asset markets. In some models, these contingencies can be used by consumers to achieve the same equilibrium allocations as in models with complete markets. In particular, the equilibrium allocation in the debt constrained model of Kehoe and Levine (2001) can be implemented in a model with bankruptcy and collateral. The equilibrium allocation is constrained efficient. Bankruptcy occurs when consumers receive low income shocks. The implementation of the debt ...
The Opportunity Costs of Entrepreneurs in International Trade
We show that a trade model with an exogenous set of heterogeneous firms with fixed operating costs has the same aggregate outcomes as a span-of-control model. Fixed costs in the heterogeneous-firm model are entrepreneurs' forgone wage in the span-of-control model.
Self-fulfilling debt crises
We characterize the values of government debt and the debt's maturity structure under which financial crises brought on by a loss of confidence in the government can arise within a dynamic, stochastic general equilibrium model. We also characterize the optimal policy response of the government to the threat of such a crisis. We show that when the country's fundamentals place it inside the crisis zone, the government is motivated to reduce its debt and exit the crisis zone because this leads to an economic boom and a reduction in the interest rate on the government's debt. We show that this ...
On characterizing equilibria of economies with externalities and taxes as solutions to optimization problems
We characterize equilibria of general equilibrium models with externalities and taxes as solutions to optimization problems. This characterization is similar to Negishi?s characterization of equilibria of economies without externalities or taxes as solutions to social planning problems. It is often useful for computing equilibria or deriving their properties. Frequently, however, finding the optimization problem that a particular equilibrium solves is difficult. This is especially true in economies with multiple equilibria. In a dynamic economy with externalities or taxes there may be a ...