Charles Calomiris

Financial Factors in the Great Depression


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This essay reviews the literature on the role of the financial factors in the Depression, and draws some lessons that have more general relevance for the study of the Depression and for macroeconomics. I argue that much of the recent progress that has been made in understanding some of the most important and puzzling aspects of financial-real links in the Depression followed a paradigm shift in economics. A central neglected theoretical piece of the story for financial factors was the allocative effects of imperfections in capital markets, which can imply links between disruptions in financial markets and subsequent economic activity. Also, the increasing emphasis on learning and "path-dependence" in economics has helped to explain why financial shocks during the 1930s were so severe and why policy-makers failed to prevent the Depression.

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Source: The Journal of Economic Perspectives
Exact Citation:
Calomiris, Charles. "Financial Factors in the Great Depression." The Journal of Economic Perspectives 7, no. 2 (Spring 1993): 61-85.
Volume: 7
Number: 2
Pages: 61-85
Date: Spring 1993