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
How Cyclical Is Bank Capital?
Using annual data since 1834 and quarterly data since 1959, I find a negative correlation between output and current and lagged values of the bank capital ratio, but a positive correlation with leading values, although except for the period since 1996 the numbers are mostly small and usually insignificant. The most significant correlations tend to reflect movements in bank assets, rather than capital itself, and although the pattern of aggregate correlations matches those of large banks, small banks show a different pattern, with strongly pro-cyclical capital ratios (counter-cyclical leverage).
AUTHORS: Haubrich, Joseph G.
Stability or upheaval? The currency composition of international reserves in the long run
We analyze how the role of different national currencies as international reserves was affected by the shift from fixed to flexible exchange rates. We extend data on the currency composition of foreign reserves backward and forward to investigate whether there was a shift in the determinants of the currency composition of international reserves around the breakdown of Bretton Woods. We find that inertia and policy-credibility effects in international reserve currency choice have become stronger post-Bretton Woods, while network effects appear to have weakened. We show that negative policy interventions designed to discourage international use of a currency have been more effective than positive interventions to encourage its use. These findings speak to the prospects of currencies like the euro and the renminbi seeking to acquire international reserve status and others like the U.S. dollar seeking to preserve it.
AUTHORS: Eichengreen, Barry; Livia, Chitu; Mehl, Arnaud
Learning from History : Volatility and Financial Crises
We study the effects of volatility on financial crises by constructing a cross-country database spanning over 200 years. Volatility is not a significant predictor of crises whereas unusually high and low volatilities are. Low volatility is followed by credit build-ups, indicating that agents take more risk in periods of low financial risk consistent with Minsky hypothesis, and increasing the likelihood of a banking crisis. The impact is stronger when financial markets are more prominent and less regulated. Finally, both high and low volatilities make stock market crises more likely, while volatility in any form has no impact on currency crises.
AUTHORS: Danielsson, Jon; Valenzuela, Marcela; Zer, Ilknur
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
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.
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
The Great Mortgaging: Housing Finance, Crises, and Business Cycles
This paper unveils a new resource for macroeconomic research: a long-run dataset covering disaggregated bank credit for 17 advanced economies since 1870. The new data show that the share of mortgages on banks? balance sheets doubled in the course of the 20th century, driven by a sharp rise of mortgage lending to households. Household debt to asset ratios have risen substantially in many countries. Financial stability risks have been increasingly linked to real estate lending booms which are typically followed by deeper recessions and slower recoveries. Housing finance has come to play a central role in the modern macroeconomy.
AUTHORS: Jordà, Òscar; Schularick, Moritz; Taylor, Alan M.
The Total Risk Premium Puzzle?
The risk premium puzzle is worse than you think. Using a new database for the U.S. and 15 other advanced economies from 1870 to the present that includes housing as well as equity returns (to capture the full risky capital portfolio of the representative agent), standard calculations using returns to total wealth and consumption show that: housing returns in the long run are comparable to those of equities, and yet housing returns have lower volatility and lower covariance with consumption growth than equities. The same applies to a weighted total-wealth portfolio, and over a range of horizons. As a result, the implied risk aversion parameters for housing wealth and total wealth are even larger than those for equities, often by a factor of 2 or more. We find that more exotic models cannot resolve these even bigger puzzles, and we see little role for limited participation, idiosyncratic housing risk, transaction costs, or liquidity premiums.
AUTHORS: Schularick, Moritz; Jordà, Òscar; Taylor, Alan M.