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Chain of events in the boom-bust

In my recent post on “boom, bust and bubbles” I tried to sketch a monetary theory of bubbles. In this post I try to give an overview of what in my view seems to be the normal chain of events in boom-bust and in the formation of bubbles. This is not a theory, but rather what I consider to be some empirical regularities in the formation and bursting of bubbles – and the common policy mistakes made by central banks and governments.

Here is the story…

Chain of events in the boom-bust

– Positive supply shocks – often due to structural reforms that include supply side reforms and monetary stabilisation

– Supply side reforms leads to “supply deflation” – headline inflation drops both as a result of monetary stabiliisation and supply deflation. Real GDP growth picks up

First policy mistake: The drop in headline inflation leads the central bank to ease monetary policy (in a fixed exchange rate regime this happens “automatically”)

– Relative inflation: Demand inflation increases sharply versus supply inflation – this is often is visible in for example sharply rising property prices and a “profit bubble”

– Investors jump on the good story – fears are dismissed often on the background of some implicit guarantees – moral hazard problems are visible

– More signs of trouble: The positive supply shock starts to ease off – headline inflation increases due to higher “supply inflation”

– Forward-looking investors start to worry about the boom turning into a bust when monetary policy will be tightened

– Second policy mistake: Cheerleading policy makers dismisses fears of boom-bust and as a result they get behind the curve on events to come and encourage investors to jump on the bandwagon

– In a fixed exchange rate the exit of worried investors effectively lead to a tightening of monetary conditions as the specie-flow mechanism sharply reduces the money supply

– The bubble bursts: Demand inflation drops sharply – this will often be mostly visible in a collapse in property prices

– The drop in demand inflation triggers financial distress – money velocity drops and triggers a further tightening of monetary conditions

Third policy mistake: Policy makers realise that they made a mistake and now try to undo it “in hindsight” not realising that the setting has changed. Monetary conditions has already been tightened.

– Secondary deflation hits. Demand prices and NGDP drops below the pre-boom trend. Real GDP drops strongly, unemployment spikes

Forth policy mistake: Monetary policy is kept tight – often because a fixed exchange rate regime is defended or because the central bank believes that monetary policy already is loose because interest rates are low

– A “forced” balance sheet recession takes place (it is NOT a Austrian style balance sheet recession…) – overly tight monetary policy forces investors and households through an unnecessary Fisherian debt-deflation

– Real GDP growth remains lackluster despite the initial financial distress easing. This is NOT due to an unavoidable deleveraging, but is a result of too tight monetary policy, but also because the positive supply shock that sat the entire process in motion has eased off.

-The country emerges from crisis when prices and wages have adjusted down or more likely when monetary policy finally is ease – for fixed exchange rate countries when the peg is given up

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