Essays on the great recession

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Tenani, Paulo S.
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The objective of this paper is to seek insights into the Great Recession, which started after the Financial Shock of 2008 and still casts a shadow on the growth of Developed Economies. Common features such as near zero interest rates, disappointing growth and low inflation - with a constant fear of deflation - have been observed in most of these countries in the last few years. The Secular Stagnation Hypothesis argues that the causes are a depressed demand, both for investments and finished products and services, and that to avoid a deflation trap governments should step in, helping economies reach their potential again. The Credit Supercycle Hypothesis puts the deleveraging cycle on focus: the large credit expansion that happened prior to the shock must be dealt with, through inflation, growth, restructuring or a combination of those, before economic agents go back to their normal behavior. The analysis of their main differences leads to the investigation of the credit cycle and its impact on productivity growth. Two approaches are used, with the time frame ranging from 1995 to 2014: a Vector Autoregressive (VAR) analysis focused on twenty developed countries and a Real Business Cycle analysis of the American Economy, both replicated from previous studies with similar focus, but different context. The results show the importance of credit formation to the growth of productivity, both directly and through fixed capital investment, and also that the low productivity growth on recent years may be not a symptom of slow technological improvement, but instead caused by the lack of credit access, notwithstanding the low interest rates and credit spreads. Policy makers overlooking this evidence might be surprised by an unforeseen rise in productivity growth after the financial system returns to a more normal behavior.

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