Real Effects of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Is it a Demand or a Finance Shock?

50 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2008 Last revised: 28 Aug 2008

See all articles by Hui Tong

Hui Tong

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Shang-Jin Wei

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); International Monetary Fund (IMF); Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

We develop a methodology to study whether and how a financial-sector crisis can spill over to the real economy, and apply it to the case of the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis. If there is a spillover, does it manifest itself primarily by reducing consumer confidence and consumer demand? Is there also a supply-side channel through a tightened liquidity constraint faced by non-financial firms? Since most firms appear to have much larger cash holdings than in the past, some suggest that a liquidity constraint is not likely to be a significant factor for non-financial firms. We propose a methodology to estimate the importance of these two channels for spillovers. We first propose an index of a firm's sensitivity to a shock to consumer confidence, based on its response to the 9/11 shock in 2001. We then construct a separate firm-level index on financial constraint based on Whited and Wu (2006). As a robustness check, we also construct an alternative sector-level index of a firm's intrinsic demand for external finance, based on the work of Rajan and Zingales (1998). We find robust evidence suggesting that both channels are at work, but that a tightened liquidity squeeze appears to be economically more important than reduced consumer confidence or spending in explaining cross-firm differences in stock price declines.

Suggested Citation

Tong, Hui and Wei, Shang-Jin, Real Effects of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Is it a Demand or a Finance Shock? (July 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14205. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1190354

Hui Tong

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Shang-Jin Wei (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Beijing, 100084
China

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