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Economic Crisis & Recovery. Jeffrey Frankel Harpel Professor of Capital Formation & Growth. Senior Executive Fellows May 3, 2010. Topics. The US recession Forecasts Origins of the financial crisis Policy response: How did we avoid a Great Depression?

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Economic Crisis & Recovery

Jeffrey FrankelHarpel Professor of Capital Formation & Growth

Senior Executive Fellows

May 3, 2010

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  • The US recession

  • Forecasts

  • Origins of the financial crisis

  • Policy response:

    • How did we avoid a Great Depression?

  • Intellectual implications of the crisis

    • for the field of economics

  • Appendices

    • The global economy

    • The problem of global imbalances

    • The G-20 in 2010

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    The US Recession

    The US recession started in Dec. 2007 according to the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee.

    In May 2009, the recession’s length passed thepostwar records -- 1973-75 & 1981-82

    = 16 months

    One has to go back to 1929-33 for a longer downturn.

    Also the most severe, by most measures:

    rise in unemployment rate, job loss, output loss….

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    June 2009 (II) or later> 18 months

    [not yet declared]

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    US employment peaked in Dec. 2007,which is one reason why the NBER BCDC dated the peak from that month.

    8 million jobs were lost over the next two years.



    Jobs peak

    Payroll employment series Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2010

    Payroll employment series Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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    US employment fell fully in proportion to GDP,

    unlike the “labor hoarding” pattern of the past.

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    In Germany, by contrast,

    the recession has shown up only in GDP,

    not at all in employment.

    Until the end of 2009 the us recovery depended on inventories and did not show up in employment l.jpg


    IMF WEO,

    April 2010

    Until the end of 2009, the US recoverydepended on inventories and did not show up in employment.

    The 2007-09, recession was unusualin the size of job loss, and in financial markets’ liquidity crisis.

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    Most indicators began to improve in mid or late 2009

    • Interbank spreads

    • Output

    • Stock market

    • Consumer confidence & spending

    • Even housing measures have bottomed out.

    • The labor market has been terrible.

      • But even it has responded with lags no worse than usual.

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    OECD Econ.Outlook, April 2010

    Evidence that the banking sector returned to normal by late 2009.



    Start of US sub-prime mortgage crisis

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    OECD Economic Outlook, April 2010

    Evidence that the banking sector returned to normal in late 2009.

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    Corporate bond rates have come back down too.



    Now < interest rates in the (mild) 2001 recession.

    OECD Economic Outlook, April 2010

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    The economic roller coaster went into free-fallin the 3rd quarter of 2008.

    But the usual cyclical pattern of recovery

    began in 2009, Q II:

    1. Leading indicators come first.

    2. Output indicators come next.

    3. Labor market indicators come last.


    Jeff Frankel’s blog,

    Nov. 2009

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    Employment Lags Behind GDPAlthough U.S. job loss has been especially badin this recession,the recovery lag behind GDP has not been unusual.

    Recession ofMar. 2001 – Nov. 2001

    Recession of Dec. 2007 – ?

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    Total hours worked in the US economy(an indicator that does not lag as far behind as unemployment)began to turn upward in October 2009

    Source: New series from BLS covering the entire private economy. 4/8/2010

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    Danger of a W-shaped recession?

    • Demand growth in the 2nd half of 2009came in large part from:

      • fiscal stimulus, &

      • ending of firms’ inventory disinvestment.

    • Both sources of stimulus are running down in 2010.

      • Fortunately it looks like consumption & investment may be catching fire:

      • Friday’s GDP report from BEA (4/30/10).

        • QIII-QI: 2.2% 5.6% 3.2 .% , now led by consumption.

    • There could always be new shocks:

      • An Iceland or Dubai or Greece

      • Hard landing for the $

      • Geopolitical/oil shock…

    • I now put the odds of a double dip recession as

      • rather small, but

      • big enough to have persuaded the NBER BCDC in our April 8 meeting to wait longer before declaring the 2009 trough.

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    Four leading private forecasts of growth in 2010

    Source: Michael Mussa, Global Economic Prospects for 2010 and 2011, PIIE, April 8, 2010.

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    International Monetary Fund | April 14,2010

    Table 1.1. World Economic Outlook (%)

    Year over Year Q4 over Q4 (2010-2011 are projections)

    2008 2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011


    Output 3.0 –0.6 4.2 4.3 1.7 3.9 4.5


    Economies 0.5 –3.2 2.3 2.4 –0.5 2.2 2.5

    Japan –1.2 –5.2 1.9 2.0 –1.4 1.6 2.3

    United States 0.4 –2.4 3.1 2.6 0.1 2.8 2.4

    Euro Area 0.6 –4.1 1.0 1.5 –2.2 1.2 1.8

    Newly Industrialized

    Asian Economies 1.8 –0.9 5.2 4.9 6.1 3.4 5.9

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    Year over Year Q4 over Q4(2010-2011 are projections)

    2008 2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011

    Emerging & Devel- 6.1 2.4 6.3 6.5 5.2 6.3 7.3


    Central & E.Europe 3.0 –3.7 2.8 3.4 1.9 1.3 4.1

    Russia 5.6 –7.9 4.0 3.3 –3.8 1.7 4.2

    Developing Asia 7.9 6.6 8.7 8.7 8.6 8.9 9.1

    China 9.6 8.7 10.0 9.9 10.7 9.4 10.1

    India 7.3 5.7 8.8 8.4 6.0 10.9 8.2

    ASEAN-5 4.7 1.7 5.4 5.6 5.0 4.2 6.2

    Middle East & N.Africa 5.1 2.4 4.5 4.8 . . . . . . . . .

    Sub-Saharan Africa 5.5 2.1 4.7 5.9 . . . . . . . . .

    Western Hemisphere 4.3 –1.8 4.0 4.0 . . . . . . . . .

    Brazil 5.1 –0.2 5.5 4.1 4.3 4.2 4.2

    Mexico 1.5 –6.5 4.2 4.5 –2.4 2.3 5.5

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    Soon we must return toward fiscal discipline.

    • The only way to do this is both reduce spending & raise tax revenue, as we did in the 1990s.

    • Tax revenue

      • Let President Bush’s tax cuts for the rich expire in 2011.

      • Phase in carbon tax or auctioning tradable emission permits

      • Or introduce a Value Added Tax

      • Curtail expensive and distorting tax expenditures

        • E.g., Tax-deductibility of mortgage interest

    • All politically very difficult, needless to say.

    • Any solution requires:

      • Honest budgeting (i.e., war in Iraq goes on-budget)

      • PAYGO

      • Wise up to politicians who claim they want to do it entirely on the spending side & but who raise spending when they get the chance.

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    • Spending

      • Cuts in farm subsidies for agribusiness & farmers

      • Cut unwanted weapons systems (a rare success: the F22 fighter)

      • Cut manned space program…

    • Social security

      • Raise retirement age – just a little

      • Progressively index future benefit growth to inflation

      • If necessary, raise the cap on social security taxes.

    • Health care

      • Encourage hospitals to standardize around best-practice medicine

        • to pursue the checklist that minimizes patient infections and

        • to avoid unnecessary medical tests & procedures.

        • Lever: making Medicare payments conditional on these best practices .

      • Curtail corporate tax-deductibility of health insurance,

        • especially gold-plated.

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    When will US adopt the tough measures to get back to fiscal sustainability?

    • Ideally, we would now adopt measures that would begin to go into effect in 2011-12 and over the coming decades – repeating the 1990s success.

    • That is unlikely politically, partisan gridlock.

    • Hopefully, then, after the 2012 presidential elections.

    • Otherwise, in response to future crises, when it will be much more painful !

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    More sustainability?on the crisis of 2007-2009

    • Six root causes of the financial crisis

    • Policy response: How did we avoid a Great Depression?

    • Implications for the field of economics

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    Six root causes of the financial crisis sustainability?

    1. UScorporate governance falls short

    E.g., rating agencies;

    executive compensation …


    golden parachutes…

    2. US households save too little,borrow too much.

    3. Politicians slant excessively toward homeowner debt:

    Tax-deductible mortgage interest;

    FannieMae & Freddie Mac;

    Allowing teasers, no-equity, NINJA loans, liar loans…

    MSN Money & Forbes


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    Six root causes of financial crisis, sustainability?cont.

    4. The federal budgethas been on a reckless path since 2001,

    reminiscent of 1981-1990

    5. Monetary policy was too loose during 2004-05,

    accommodating fiscal expansion,reminiscent of the Vietnam era.

    6. Financial market participants grossly underpriced risk 2005-07.

    Ignoring possible shocks such as:

    housing crash,

    $ crash,

    oil prices,



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    US real interest rate < 0, 2003-04 sustainability?

    Source: Benn Steil, CFR, March 2009

    Real interest rates <0


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    Source: “The EMBI in the Global Village,” sustainability?Javier GomezMay 18, 2008

    In 2003-07, market-perceived volatility, as measured by options (VIX), plummeted.

    So did spreads on US junk & emerging market bonds.

    In 2008, it all reversed.


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    Origins of the financial/economic crises sustainability?

    Underestimated riskin financial mkts

    Failures of corporate governance

    Households saving too little, borrowing too much

    Federal budget deficits

    Monetary policy easy 2004-05

    Excessive leverage in financial institutions



    Low national saving




    Stock market




    China’s growth

    Financial crisis


    Lower long-term econ.growth

    Eventual loss of US hegemony


    Predatory lending

    Excessive complexity







    Oil price spike





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    They did. Indices peaked in late 2006, and fell 1/3. sustainability?

    The “black swan”: investors thought housing prices could never go down.


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    Financial meltdown: sustainability?bank spreads rose sharplywhen sub-prime mortgage crisis hit (Aug. 2007) and up again when Lehman crisis hit (Sept. 2008).


    OECD Economic Outlook

    (Nov. 2008).


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    My favorite monthly indicator: sustainability?total hours worked in the economy

    It confirms:US recession began Dec. 07, turned severe in Sept. 08,

    when the worst of the financial crisis hit (Lehman bankruptcy…)


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    National income has been more reliable than GDP, sustainability?even though they are supposed to measure the same thing.

    Recession of July1990 – March91

    Recession ofMar. 2001 – Nov. 2001

    Recession of Dec. 2007 – ?


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    2: Policy Response -- sustainability?How did we avoid another Great Depression?

    • We learned important lessons from the 1930s and, for the most part, didn’t repeat the mistakes we made then.


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    We learnt from the mistakes of the 1930s. sustainability?

    Monetary response: good this time

    Fiscal response: relatively good, but :

    constrained by inherited debt

    and congressional politics.

    Trade policy:

    Some slippage, e.g., Chinese tires.

    But we did not repeat 1981 auto quotas or 2001 steel tariffs

    let alone Smoot-Hawley !

    Financial regulation?


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    U.S. Policy Responses sustainability?

    Monetaryeasing was unprecedented, appropriately avoiding the mistake of 1930s. (graph)

    Policy interest rates ≈ 0.

    The famous liquidity trip is not mythical after all.

    Lending, even inter-bank, built in big spreads.

    Then we had aggressive quantitative easing:

    the Fed purchased assets not previously dreamt of.


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    The Fed certainly did sustainability?not repeated the mistake of 1930s: letting the money supply fall.


    Source: IMF, WEO, April 2009Box 3.1



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    Federal Reserve Assets sustainability?($ billions)have more-than-doubled, through new facilities, rather than conventional T bill purchases


    Source: Federal Reserve H.4.1 report

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    Policy Responses, sustainability?continued

    succeeded in getting the financial system going again,

    thereby precluding a new Great Depression,

    yet without “nationalization” of the banks.

    Contrary to almost all commentary at the time of TARP:

    The conditions imposed on banks were enough to make them balk at keeping the funds.

    The banks have now paid back the taxpayer at a profit.

    Geithner’s stress tests fulfilled their function of telling strong banks from weak.

    The policy of “financial repair”


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    Next up in US: Financial reform. sustainability? What is needed?



    Consumer protection, including standards for mortgage brokers

    Fix “originate to distribute” model, so lenders stay on the hook.

    Remove pro-housing bias in policy. (But politicians remain unanimously pro.)


    Regulators shouldn’t let banks use their own risk models;

    should make capital requirements higher & less pro-cyclical .

    Is “too big to fail” inevitable? (The worst is to say “no” and then do “yes.”)

    Extend bank-like regulation to “near banks.”

    Regulators need resolution authority.

    Segmentation of function:

    Volcker rule ?

    or all the way back to Glass-Steagall or breaking up large banks?(I don’t think so.)


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    Financial reforms sustainability?continued

    Executive compensation

    Compensation committee not under CEO.

    Maybe need Chairman of Board.

    Discourage golden parachutes & options,

    unless truly tied to performance.


    Regulatory agencies: less decentalization of authority?

    Regulate derivatives:

    Create a central clearing house for CDSs .

    Credit ratings:

    Reduce reliance on ratings: AAA does not mean no risk.

    Reduce ratings agencies’ conflicts of interest.


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    Policy Responses, sustainability?continued

    $787 b fiscal stimulus passed Feb. 2009.

    Good old-fashioned Keynesian stimulus

    Even the principle that spending provides more stimulus than tax cuts has returned;

    not just from Larry Summers, e.g.,

    but also from Martin Feldstein.

    Is $800 billion too small? Too large?

    Yes: Too small to knock out recession ;

    too large to reassure global investors re US debt.

    Also Congress was not willing to vote for more, especially on the spending side.


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    Bottom line of macroeconomic policy response: sustainability?

    The monetary and fiscal response wassufficient to halt the economic free-fall.

    It won’t be enough to return us rapidly to full employment and potential output.

    Given the path of debt that was inherited in 2009, it is unlikely that more could be done.

    Chinese officials already questioning our creditworthiness

    Questions asked about US AAA rating

    Risk of hard landing for the $


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    3: Intellectual implications of the crisis for economics sustainability?

    • The return of Keynes

      • And 4 others who mainstream theory had forgotten.

    • The implications for Inflation Targeting

    • 8 economists who got parts right

    • In what direction should macro theory now move?

      • The phyloxera analogy: reimporting models from emerging markets.

    The return of keynes l.jpg
    The return of Keynes sustainability?

    • Keynesian truths abound today:

      • Origins of the crisis

      • The Liquidity Trap

      • Fiscal response; spending vs. tax cuts

      • Motivation for macroeconomic intervention:to save market microeconomics

      • International transmission

      • Need for coordinated expansion (now the G20)

    Motivation for macroeconomic intervention l.jpg
    Motivation for macroeconomic intervention sustainability?

    • The view that Keynes stood for big government is not really right.

      • He wanted to save market microeconomics from central planning, which had allure in the 30s & 40s,

      • by using macroeconomic demand to return to equilibrium.

    • Some on the Left reacted to the 2008 crisis & election by hoping for fundamental overhaul of the economic system.

      • But the policy that prevails today is the same.

    Slide46 l.jpg

    • The origin of the crisis was an asset bubble sustainability?collapse, loss of confidence, credit crunch….

    • like Keynes’ animal spirits or beauty contest .

      • Add in von Hayek’s credit cycle,

      • Kindleberger78 ’s “manias & panics”

      • the “Minsky moment,”

      • & Fisher’s “debt deflation.”

    • The origin this time was not a monetary contraction in response to inflationas were 1980-82 or 1991.

    • But, rather, a credit cycle: 2003-04 monetary expansion showed up only in asset prices.

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    Who got pieces of it right, beforehand? sustainability?

    • Krugman: If a Depression can happen in Japan, it can happen in any modern economy.

    • Rajan: Failures of corporate governance.

    • BIS (Borio & White): Too-easy credit, via asset prices, leads to crises -- with no inflation in between.

    • Shiller: US housing price bubble.

    • Gramlich: Homeowners are being sold mortgages that they can’t repay.

    • Rogoff: “This Time Is Not Different.”

    • Roubini: The recession will be severe.

    Appendix where should mainstream macro go in light of the 2007 09 global financial crisis l.jpg
    Appendix: sustainability?“Where should mainstream macro go,inlightofthe2007-09 globalfinancialcrisis?”

    • Some models that had been thriving in an emerging markets context may now help answer this question.

    • Some were applications of models originally designed for advanced-country financial markets, but never fully incorporated into the mainstream macro core.

    • A possible explanation why they had been transplanted to emerging markets: assumptions of imperfections in financial markets were considered more acceptable there, than in the context of advanced economies.

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    Financial crises: sustainability?Not just for emerging markets anymore.An analogy

    • In the latter part of the 19th century most of the vineyards of France were destroyed by Phylloxera.

    • Eventually a desperate last resort was tried: grafting susceptible European vines onto resistant American root stock.

    • Purist French vintners initially disdained what the considered compromising the refined tastes of their grape varieties.

    • But it saved the European vineyards, and did not impair the quality of the wine.

    • The New World had come to the rescue of the Old.

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    Implications of the 2008 financial crisis for macroeconomics?

    • In 2007-08, the global financial system was grievously infected by “toxic assets” originating in the United States.

    • Many ask what fundamental rethinking is necessary to save orthodox macroeconomic theory.

    • Some answers may lie with models that have been applied to the realities of emerging markets.

    • Purists may be reluctant to seek help from this direction.

    • But they should not fear that the hardy root stock of emerging market models is incompatible with fine taste.

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    What are some of these models? macroeconomics?

    Asymmetric information (Akerlof…)

    Credit rationing (Stiglitz…)

    Need for collateral (Kiyotaki & Moore, Caballero…)

    Leverage cycle (Geanakoplos)

    The credit channel (Bernanke & Gertler… )

    Speculative attacks (Krugman)

    Bank runs (Diamond & Dybvyg)

    Multiple equilibria (Obstfeld; Morris & Shin; …)

    Balance sheet effects & sudden stops (Calvo, Velasco…)

    Moral hazard & incentive incompatibility (Dooley…)

    Behavioural economics (Thaler..)