The Anatomy of a Credit Crisis: The Boom and Bust in Farm Land Prices in the United States in the 1920s
Raghuram G. Rajan
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; International Monetary Fund (IMF); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
September 1, 2014
American Economic Review, Forthcoming
Does credit availability exacerbate asset price inflation? What channels could it work through? What are the long run consequences? In this paper we address these questions by examining the farm land price boom (and bust) in the United States that preceded the Great Depression. We find that credit availability likely had a direct effect on inflating land prices. Credit availability may have also amplified the relationship between the perceived improvement in fundamentals and land prices. When the perceived fundamentals soured, however, areas with higher ex ante credit availability suffered a greater fall in land prices, and experienced higher bank failure rates. Land prices stayed low for a number of decades after the bust in areas that had higher credit availability, suggesting that the effects of booms and busts induced by credit availability might be persistent. We draw lessons for regulatory policy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 60
Keywords: Consumer Credit, banking, land prices
JEL Classification: E44, G21
Date posted: December 30, 2012 ; Last revised: December 22, 2014
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