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An Historical Perspective on the Quest for Financial Stability and the Monetary Policy Regime

  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.

This article surveys the co-evolution of monetary policy and financial stability for a number of countries from 1880 to the present. Historical evidence on the incidence, costs, and determinants of financial crises (the most extreme form of financial instability), combined with narratives on some famous financial crises, suggests that financial crises have many causes, including credit-driven asset price booms, which have become more prevalent in recent decades, but in general financial crises are very heterogeneous and hard to categorize. Moreover, evidence shows that the association across the country sample between credit booms, asset price booms, and serious financial crises is quite weak.

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For excellent research assistance I thank Maria Sole Pagliari. For helpful comments and suggestions, I thank: Paul David, Harold James, John Landon-Lane, Chris Meissner, Hugh Rockoff, Myron Scholes, Lars E.O. Svensson, John Taylor, Aaron Tornell, David Wheelock, Eugene White, and Gavin Wright.

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