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Coping with Financial Crisis: USA in the 1930s Price Fishback University of Arizona.

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Presentation on theme: "Coping with Financial Crisis: USA in the 1930s Price Fishback University of Arizona."— Presentation transcript:

1 Coping with Financial Crisis: USA in the 1930s Price Fishback University of Arizona

2 Focus Long list of contributors to the Great Depression Contributions of Monetary and Fiscal Policy – To the U.S. Contraction – To The Recovery, – To the Second Dip of

3 1930s Monetary Policy Overview Mistake-filled Decade: Little Debate – Deflationary Policy in – Slow reactions to Bank Failures, – Doubling of Reserve Requirements, Why? – Too Much Emphasis on Gold Standard – Failure to Perceive Tightness of Policy Fed did not see impact of deflation on investors’ attitudes Fed perceived many troubled banks to be unsound Shock Therapy by Leaving Gold Standard How Much Causal Effect? 20-80% 3

4 Fiscal Policy Overview Keynesian Stimulus Never Tried – Large Rise in Government Spending Both Hoover and Roosevelt – BUT Increases in Taxation to Match – Both Interested in Balanced Budgets Macro Discussion: – 1933 Rise in Spending part of Policy Shock in 1933: Reversing Deflationary Expectations Govt Spending Really more About Differences Across States Most Successful Policies at Improving Welfare – Public Works and Relief Spending on various Measures of Welfare – Farm Programs Did more Harm than Good. 4

5 Monetary Policy Friedman and Schwartz, Monetary History of the United States OMOs Too Little, Too Late 5

6 6 Big Spikes in Failures FED waited until 1932 To Run Large Purchase of $1 Billion over 5 months Value of Deposits Suspended OMO bond Purchases

7 DISCOUNT RATE POLICY Fed Cut Rates Until after Britain left Gold in 9/31 7

8 Why so Recalcitrant? Emphasis on Gold Standard support – Offsetting Gold Flows and not enough attention domestically – All Agree played significant role. – Countries Freed from Gold Standard Recovered Temin and Wigmore, Eichengreen, Kindleberger 8

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10 Why Ignore Domestic Problems? Real Bills Doctrine – Let Commercial Activity and Banks Determine their needs – Weak Banks Failing Fed Did not recognize policy as tight. Cut Nominal Discount Rate Never Mention Deflation Effect on Real Interest Rates in their Discussions 10

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12 12 In 1920s Fed Sees Many Bank Suspensions of Small, weak unit banks, Deposit Losses Very Low Even 1931 spike, little spike in Lost Deposits

13 What the Fed Saw No Mention of Deflation Causing Real Rates to Be High 13

14 What the Borrowers Felt Nearly Triple Next Highest Real Rate After

15 Second Dip Reserve Requirements Fed given control under Banking Act of 1935 In 1936 worried about overheated recovery Banks holding excess reserves and worried if lent them out, inflation would develop Doubled Reserve Requirements in 3 steps 8/1/36, 3/1/37, 5/1/37 Banks no trust for Fed as Lender of Last Resort Continued to Hold Excess Reserves, Credit Dried Up 15

16 16 Money Supply Blue strongly correlated With Real Output Red

17 Recent Estimates of Impact in DSGE models Build a Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Model of Economy – Infinite-Lived Households choosing consumption and assets – Firms maximize profits as hire household members – Capital accumulation process. – Add inefficiencies: sticky wages, credit limits – Choose parameters – Solve and do policy simulations 17

18 Consensus on Money Effects At a minimum it can account for 20 percent of the problems (Cole and Ohanian) Estimates range as high as percent (Bordo, Erceg, and Evans 2000; Christiano, Motta, Restagno 2003) Many estimates in between Bernanke Chari, Kehoe, McGrattan

19 Microeconomic Evidence Tale of two Feds in Mississippi (Richardson/Troost) – St. Louis Real Bills – Atlanta Bagehot’s rule in panics – Fewer Bank failures in Atlanta district – Expanded wholesale sales. William McChesney Martin, Sr. 19

20 Shock Therapy Eggertsson (2009) Temin and Wigmore (1990) Roosevelt Broke Deflationary Expectations in 1933 – Move off Gold Standard – Fed’s lower Discount Rate and OMOs – Spending more – Push for high prices – Eggertsson model claims explains 80 percent of recovery 20

21 Fiscal Policy Hoover and Roosevelt Administrations Increased Outlays – Hoover the old-fashioned way Roads, rivers, harbors, flood control Real spending up 88 percent – Roosevelt in many new ways Relief, farm programs, new agencies Real spending up 68 Percent , Adds another 6% from Tax Revenues Declined 31-33, Rose Afterward 21

22 Outlays 22

23 Not Keynesian Stimulus Find Keynesian Misperception everywhere Keynes, Alva Hansen, E. Cary Brown, Larry Peppers all say it wasn’t Essence shown in Figure 7 23

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25 Real Action Was in States, Counties, Cities New Studies Show 1) Don’t Treat Each Program Same – Relief and Public Works (positive) – Farm Payments to Reduce Output (slight negative) 2) Some crowding out of private employment as move from to ) State Level multipliers – $1 of G leads to $0.8 to $1.4 in income. – 1.4 to 1.6 for Pub works and Relief. Neg. Farm > 25

26 Tax Rate Infamy: Uncertainty Rules Day Smoot-Hawley Tariff Income Tax Rate Increases in 1932 – Only Top 5-7 percent of HH paid Income Tax – Over $1 million 23.1 to 57 (to 68 in 35-36) – Income Tax Revenues Fell Introduced Excise Taxes on oil, pipelines, autos, bank checks, gasoline – 48 % of revenue by 1934 – Alcohol Taxes Investment Tax with NRA Undistributed Profits Tax Uncertainty Ruled Day 26

27 Banking Problems State Deposit Insurance Unsuccessful in 1920s – Attracted weaker banks (adverse selection) – Insured banks took more risk (moral hazard) Unit banks – Not diversified enough to withstand local shocks – Explains bad balance sheets when suspended Banks, Margins, and Stock Crash – After 1927, New York Banks broker lending declined – Slow growth in lending by other American banks – Most broker loans from foreign banks, private individuals, corporations 27

28 1930s Banking Reforms Deposit Insurance Glass-Steagall – wall between investment banking and commercial banking – No too big to fail – separates riskier investments from traditional banking roles – BUT repeal of GS not seen by many analysts as current problem – Repeal Allowed Goldman and Morgan Stanley to become banks Regulation Q (ended 1978) – Not interest on checking, ceiling on savings interest – Way too Conservative Separation of S and L and commercial banks – 1980s problem: premiums too low, lax monitoring 28

29 1930s Summary Monetary Policy Mistakes – Fed was learning on the job – Too much focus on gold not enough on lender of last resort – Fed not paying attention to deflation impact on real costs of borrowing – Measured impact ranges from percent depending on model and scholar Fiscal Deficit Policy Not Really Tried – Real Action is in the Microeconomic Effects of Expanding Relief and Public Works 29

30 1930s Supply-Side Effects Tariffs a Disaster 1932 Income Tax Increase – affected less than 10 percent of Households – Most rate rises to levels not too high, BUT – Confiscatory for those over $1 million, 23 to 58 to 67% – Sharp drop in Income Tax Revenues resulted Real Tax Problem new Federal Excise Taxes on Leading new Industries Electricity, pipelines, autos, gasoline, etc Alcohol Taxes Post-Prohibition 1930s Different Tax Mix, 48 % from excise taxes by

31 Fed Policy Then and Now Fed waited 3 years – as unemployment rose above 10%, then 16%, then 20% – before making a large open market purchase of $1B. In 2008 Fed ran – large open market operations and drove federal funds rate close to zero – before the unemployment rate passed 7 percent 2009 Bought huge amounts of mortgage-backed securities To Avoid Second Dip, $600 Billion in QE2 31

32 To Prevent Shocks from Failures Borrowed New Deal Playbook Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner propped up many large institutions – Bear Stearns – Fannie (a New Deal Legacy) with Freddie – AIG – RFC-style ownership stakes in banks – Bank Holiday-style Stress tests 32

33 Bailouts Seemed to Be Right Move Policy Makers Describe Fear that Whole System going down Guarantees Have not been costly – Except for Fannie and Freddie Deficits have been smaller than predicted (14% predicted, 10% actual) because half of TARP money not spent, money paid back by banks 33

34 Long Run Issues to Address Do we want the federal government heavily involved in financing economy Freddie and Fannie – supposedly private but ultimately backed by govt. – Major portion of the whole mortgage problem – now financing over 90 percent of all new home loans Bailouts create moral hazard – Banks take more risks because anticipate bailouts as protection. 34

35 Modern Fiscal Policy New Deal was not Keynesian Policy – Deficits too small relative to size of problem New Policy is Keynesian. – Deficit rose from 3.3 % in 2008 to 9.9 in 2009 to 10.6 in 2010 – Uncharted waters. Deficits as a share of GDP – twice the next highest peace-time deficit, – 3 and 4 and 5 times New Deal Deficits 35

36 2009 Deficit Response more like what Keynesian would have done in Depression 1930s Deficit more like expected Response to problems WWI WWII 36

37 Increasing Debt 1930s responding to Unemp range 10-25% – 10 years to increase Debt/GDP ratio by 28 points – 16% in 1929 to 44 % in responding to Unemp range 5-10% – 3 years to increase Debt/GDP ratio by 28 points. – 36% in 1907 to 64 % in

38 Did the Fiscal Stimulus Work? Most academic short run Macro spending multiplier estimates are in the 0.5 to 1 range – $1 of federal spending raises GDP by 50 cents to $1 with some crowding out. Government replaces some private activity My estimates for 1930s for U.S. states range from 0.8 to 1.4 for general spending – BUT. These would be highest estimates on record because 1930s had so many unemployed resources – No positive effect on private employment, some negative – Focus should be on the microeconomics of each specific program and not on fiscal multiplier. 38


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