Political booms, financial crises: Why popular governments are not always a good sign
Christoph Trebesch, Helios Herrera, Guillermo L. Ordoñez06 September 2014
Financial crises are often credit booms gone bust. This column argues that ‘political booms’, defined as an increase in government popularity, are also a good predictor of financial crises. The phenomenon of ‘political booms gone bust’ is, however, only observable in emerging markets. In these countries, politicians have more to gain from riding the popularity benefits of unsustainable booms.
Financial crises: the search for early warning indicators
Financial crises are a recurrent phenomenon in the history of emerging markets and advanced economies alike. To understand the common causes of these crises and to prevent future ones from developing, economists have a long tradition of studying early warning indicators. Two well-documented predictors of financial crises are credit booms and capital flow bonanzas.
There is a widespread view among macroeconomists that fluctuations in collateral are an important driver of credit booms and busts. This column distinguishes between ‘fundamental’ collateral – backed by expectations of future profits – and ‘bubbly’ collateral – backed by expectations of future credit. Markets are generically unable to provide the optimal amount of bubbly collateral, which creates a natural role for stabilisation policies. A lender of last resort with the ability to tax and subsidise credit can design a ‘leaning against the wind’ policy that replicates the ‘optimal’ bubble allocation.
Credit markets play an increasingly central role in modern economies. Within the OECD, for instance, domestic credit has risen from 100% of GDP in 1970 to approximately 160% of GDP in 2012 (as measured by the Bank for International Settlements). To be sure, this growth masks large variations across countries and over time, but there is a common feature to all these different country experiences that stands out. Credit has often alternated between ‘booms’ – periods of rapid growth – and ‘busts’ – periods of stagnation or significant decline.
Charles Calomiris talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his recent book, co-authored with Stephen Haber, ‘Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit’. They discuss how politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation and why banking systems are unstable in some countries but not in others. Calomiris also presents his analysis of the political and banking history of the UK and how the well-being of banking systems depends on complex bargains and coalitions between politicians, bankers and other stakeholders. The interview was recorded in London in February 2014.
Fiscal sustainability has become a hot topic as a result of the European sovereign debt crisis, but it matters in normal times, too. This column argues that financial sector reforms are essential to ensure fiscal sustainability in the future. Although emerging market reforms undertaken in the aftermath of the financial crises of the 1990s were beneficial, complacency is not warranted. In the US, political gridlock must be overcome to reform entitlements and the tax system. In the Eurozone, creating a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism should be a priority.
How can we predict bad credit booms? This column argues that surges in gross private inflows are good predictors of booms in credit markets, especially those booms that end up in a systemic banking crisis. Using quarterly data on gross capital inflows and real credit, gross private inflows remain a useful measure even when accounting for the past history of credit and asset prices The evidence suggests that surges in capital flows may well mean future financial turmoil.
Markus K Brunnermeier, José De Gregorio, Philip Lane, Hélène Rey, Hyun Song Shin
Foreign flows into emerging market economies have surged in the post-crisis period. The surge in gross inflows has come alongside a rapid creation of credit, an excessive increase in stock and housing prices and continued pressure towards further appreciation of the currency in emerging market economies. These developments have reignited the debate on capital inflow management.
Bank credit during the 2008 financial crisis: A cross-country comparison
Ari Aisen, Michael Franken28 May 2010
What factors determined the performance of bank credit during the global crisis? This column presents evidence from 83 countries suggesting that credit booms prior to the crisis led to a sharper contraction in bank credit after the crisis. Meanwhile, the growth performance of a country’s main trading partners had a positive impact on bank credit – as did monetary policy.
Rarely has an episode of financial turmoil generated such economic havoc as the 2008 financial crisis. The wealth destruction was unique – estimated at $50 trillion, the equivalent to one year of world GDP (Loser 2009) – which resulted from the plunge in the value of stocks, bonds, property, and other assets. The crisis was unprecedented in its global scale, synchronicity, and severity. It hindered credit access to businesses, households, and banks – and choked economic activity.
Are credit bubbles dangerous? This column presents long-run historical data showing that, over the past 140 years, episodes of financial instability were often the result of "credit booms gone wrong". Recent years witnessed an unprecedented expansion in the role of credit in the macroeconomy. It is a mishap of history that – just as credit matters more than ever before – the reigning doctrine gives it no role in central bank policies.
The financial crisis of 2008–09 has reignited interest in understanding the crucial roles money and credit play in the creation, propagation, and amplification of economic shocks. Such research on the importance of financial structure promises to reopen a number of fundamental fault lines in modern macroeconomic thinking.
The US subprime mortgage crisis: A credit boom gone bad?
Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, Luc Laeven, Deniz Igan04 February 2008
Recent US mortgage market troubles unsteadied the global economy. This column summarises research analysing millions of loan applications to investigate the roots of the crisis. A credit boom may be to blame.
Recent events in the market for mortgage-backed securities have placed the US subprime mortgage industry in the spotlight. Over the last decade, this market has expanded dramatically, evolving from a small niche segment into a major portion of the overall US mortgage market. Can the recent market turmoil – triggered by the sharp increase in delinquency rates – be related to this rapid expansion? In other words, is the recent experience, in part, the result of a credit boom gone bad?