Credit, crises, and inequality

In a recent working paper of the Bank of England (2021), authors Jonathan Bridges, Georgina Green, and Mark Joy evaluate a panel dataset of 26 developed nations over 5 decades preceding the Covid-19 pandemic to show that inequality rises following recessions, and rapid credit growth in the time until downturn exacerbates that effect. This growth, whether financial or normal in nature, increases unemployment and inequality effects. They observe that “one standard deviation credit boom leads to a 40% amplification of the distributional fallout in the bust that follows”.

Moreover, “low bank capital ahead of a downturn amplifies the inequality increase that follows. These insights add a new dimension to policy cost-benefit analysis, at the distributional level.” The paper’s results indicate that a 55% amplification in the cyclical response of income inequality to a recession if a country enters the recession with bank capital ratios one standard deviation lower than average. The authors note that using the tools established in new macroprudential norms empower economies to safeguard their financial stability using both borrower and lender resilience, but can also lead to distributional costs in the event of an untamed crisis.

“Taken together, these results suggest an important link between credit, crises, and inequality. They demonstrate that tail events for the macroeconomy also represent distributional shocks.” Vulnerabilities like the rapid accumulation of debt, weakening of bank capital, and an increased risk of recession transforming into a full-fledged financial crisis can all contribute to distributional effects and rising inequalities when a crisis actually strikes. While the use of macroprudential policies to address these vulnerabilities has both, associated costs and benefits, entirely avoiding the usage of these policies entirely can lead to severe macroeconomic and distributional ill effects.

Click here to read the full paper.

Posted by at 9:01 AM

Labels: Inclusive Growth, Macro Demystified


Subscribe to: Posts