Central Bank Balance Sheets: Expansion and Reduction Since 1900

50 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2015  

Niall Ferguson

Harvard University - Department of History; Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Andreas Schaab

Harvard Business School

Moritz Schularick

University of Bonn - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 31, 2015

Abstract

In this paper we study the evolution of central banks’ balance sheets in 12 advanced economies since 1900. We find that balance sheet size in most developed countries has fluctuated within rather clearly defined bands relative to output. Historically, clusters of big expansions and contractions of balance sheets have been associated with periods of geopolitical or financial crisis. Relative to the size of the financial sector, central bank balance sheets had shrunk dramatically in the three decades preceding the global financial crisis. By that yardstick, their recent expansion partly marks a return to earlier levels.

Keywords: central banks, monetary policy, financial history

JEL Classification: E510, E580, N100

Suggested Citation

Ferguson, Niall and Schaab, Andreas and Schularick, Moritz, Central Bank Balance Sheets: Expansion and Reduction Since 1900 (May 31, 2015). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5379. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2615738

Niall Ferguson

Harvard University - Department of History ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

Andreas Schaab

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Moritz Schularick (Contact Author)

University of Bonn - Department of Economics ( email )

Bonn
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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