The asymmetric effects of deflation on consumption spending: evidence from the Great Depression
Does expected deflation lead to a fall in consumption spending? Using data for U.S. grocery store sales and department store sales from 1919 to 1939, this paper shows that expected price changes have asymmetric effects on consumption spending. Department store sales (durable consumption) react negatively to the expectation of falling prices, but grocery store sales (non-durable consumption) do not react to expected price changes.
AUTHORS: Davis, J. Scott
Unprecedented actions: the Federal Reserve’s response to the global financial crisis in historical perspective
Interventions by the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis of 2007-2009 were generally viewed as unprecedented and in violation of the rules---notably Bagehot?s rule---that a central bank should follow to avoid the time-inconsistency problem and moral hazard. Reviewing the evidence for central banks? crisis management in the U.S., the U.K. and France from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century, we find that there were precedents for all of the unusual actions taken by the Fed. When these were successful interventions, they followed contingent and target rules that permitted pre- tive actions to forestall worse crises but were combined with measures to mitigate moral hazard.
AUTHORS: Mishkin, Frederic S.; White, Eugene
No price like home: global house prices, 1870-2012
How have house prices evolved in the long-run? This paper presents annual house price indices for 14 advanced economies since 1870. Based on extensive data collection, we are able to show for the first time that house prices in most industrial economies stayed constant in real terms from the 19th to the mid-20th century, but rose sharply in recent decades. Land prices, not construction costs, hold the key to understanding the trajectory of house prices in the long-run. Residential land prices have surged in the second half of the 20th century, but did not increase meaningfully before. We argue that before World War II dramatic reductions in transport costs expanded the supply of land and suppressed land prices. Since the mid-20th century, comparably large land-augmenting reductions in transport costs no longer occurred. Increased regulations on land use further inhibited the utilization of additional land, while rising expenditure shares for housing services increased demand.
AUTHORS: Schularick, Moritz; Knoll, Katharina; Steger, Thomas
Historical Patterns of Inequality and Productivity around Financial Crises
To understand the determinants of financial crises, previous research focused on developments closely related to financial markets. In contrast, this paper considers changes originating in the real economy as drivers of financial instability. Based on long-run historical data for advanced economies, I find that rising top income inequality and low productivity growth are robust predictors of crises ? even outperforming well known early-warning indicators such as credit growth. Moreover, if crises are preceded by such developments, output declines more during the subsequent recession. In addition, I show that asset booms explain the relation between income inequality and financial crises in the data.
AUTHORS: Paul, Pascal
Riders on the Storm
Interest rates in major advanced economies have drifted down and in greater unison over the past few decades. A country?s rate of interest can be thought of as reflecting movements in the global neutral rate of interest, the domestic neutral rate, and the stance of monetary policy. Only the latter is controlled by the central bank. Estimates from a state space New Keynesian model show that central bank policy explains less than half of the variation in interest rates. The rest of the time, the central bank is catching up to trends dictated by productivity growth, demography, and other factors outside of its control.
AUTHORS: Taylor, Alan M.; Jordà, Òscar
The Rate of Return on Everything, 1870–2015
This paper answers fundamental questions that have preoccupied modern economic thought since the 18th century. What is the aggregate real rate of return in the economy? Is it higher than the growth rate of the economy and, if so, by how much? Is there a tendency for returns to fall in the long-run? Which particular assets have the highest long-run returns? We answer these questions on the basis of a new and comprehensive dataset for all major asset classes, including?for the first time?total returns to the largest, but oft ignored, component of household wealth, housing. The annual data on total returns for equity, housing, bonds, and bills cover 16 advanced economies from 1870 to 2015, and our new evidence reveals many new insights and puzzles.
AUTHORS: Taylor, Alan M.; Schularick, Moritz; Kuvshinov, Dmitry; Jordà, Òscar; Knoll, Katharina
Global Financial Cycles and Risk Premiums
This paper studies the synchronization of financial cycles across 17 advanced economies over the past 150 years. The comovement in credit, house prices, and equity prices has reached historical highs in the past three decades. The sharp increase in the comovement of global equity markets is particularly notable. We demonstrate that fluctuations in risk premiums, and not risk-free rates and dividends, account for a large part of the observed equity price synchronization after 1990. We also show that U.S. monetary policy has come to play an important role as a source of fluctuations in risk appetite across global equity markets. These fluctuations are transmitted across both fixed and floating exchange rate regimes, but the effects are more muted in floating rate regimes.
AUTHORS: Schularick, Moritz; Ward, Felix; Jordà, Òscar; Taylor, Alan M.
The Time for Austerity: Estimating the Average Treatment Effect of Fiscal Policy
Elevated government debt levels in advanced economies have risen rapidly as sovereigns absorbed private sector losses and cyclical deficits blew up in the Global Financial Crisis and subsequent slump. A rush to fiscal austerity followed but its justifications and impacts have been heavily debated. Research on the effects of austerity on macroeconomic aggregates remains unsettled, mired by the difficulty of identifying multipliers from observational data. This paper reconciles seemingly disparate estimates of multipliers within a unified framework. We do this by first evaluating the validity of common identification assumptions used by the literature and find that they are largely violated in the data. Next, we use new propensity score methods for time-series data with local projections to quantify how contractionary austerity really is, especially in economies operating below potential. We find that the adverse effects of austerity may have been understated.
AUTHORS: Taylor, Alan M.; Jordà, Òscar
Sovereigns versus Banks: Credit, Crises, and Consequences
Two separate narratives have emerged in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. One speaks of private financial excess and the key role of the banking system in leveraging and deleveraging the economy. The other emphasizes the public sector balance sheet over the private and worries about the risks of lax fiscal policies. However, the two may interact in important and understudied ways. This paper studies the co-evolution of public and private sector debt in advanced countries since 1870. We find that in advanced economies financial stability risks have come from private sector credit booms and not from the expansion of public debt. However, we find evidence that high levels of public debt have tended to exacerbate the effects of private sector deleveraging after crises, leading to more prolonged periods of economic depression. Fiscal space appears to be a constraint in the aftermath of a crisis, then and now.
AUTHORS: Schularick, Moritz; Taylor, Alan M.; Jordà, Òscar
Betting the House
Is there a link between loose monetary conditions, credit growth, house price booms, and financial instability? This paper analyzes the role of interest rates and credit in driving house price booms and busts with data spanning 140 years of modern economic history in the advanced economies. We exploit the implications of the macroeconomic policy trilemma to identify exogenous variation in monetary conditions: countries with fixed exchange regimes often see fluctuations in short-term interest rates unrelated to home economic conditions. We use novel instrumental variable local projection methods to demonstrate that loose monetary conditions lead to booms in real estate lending and house prices bubbles; these, in turn, materially heighten the risk of financial crises. Both effects have become stronger in the postwar era.
AUTHORS: Taylor, Alan M.; Jordà, Òscar; Schularick, Moritz