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The Aftermath of Financial Crises

January 2nd, 2009 No comments

A quote from a paper prepared for presentation at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco this coming Saturday, January 3, 2009 by Carmen M. Reinhart, University of Maryland. NBER and CEPR and Kenneth S. Rogoff Harvard University and NBER:

Broadly speaking, financial crises are protracted affairs. More often than not, the aftermath of severe financial crises share three characteristics.

First, asset market collapses are deep and prolonged. Real housing price declines average 35 percent stretched out over six years, while equity price collapses average 55 percent over a downturn of about three and a half years.

Second, the aftermath of banking crises is associated with profound declines in output and employment. The unemployment rate rises an average of 7 percentage points over the down phase of the cycle, which lasts on average over four years. Output falls (from peak to trough) an average of over 9 percent, although the duration of the downturn, averaging roughly two years, is considerably shorter than for unemployment.

Third, the real value of government debt tends to explode, rising an average of 86 percent in the major post–World War II episodes.

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