NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

International Aspects of the Great Depression and the Crisis of 2007: Similarities, Differences, and Lessons

Richard S. Grossman, Christopher M. Meissner

NBER Working Paper No. 16269
Issued in August 2010
NBER Program(s):   DAE

We focus on two international aspects of the Great Depression—financial crises and international trade— and try to discern lessons for the current economic crisis. Both downturns featured global banking crises which were generated by boom-slump macroeconomic cycles. During both crises, world trade collapsed faster than world incomes and the trade decline was highly synchronized across countries. In the Depression, income losses and rises in trade barriers explain trade's collapse. Due to vertical specialization and more intense trade in durables, today's trade collapse is due to uncertainty and small shocks to trade costs hitting international supply chains. So far, the global economy has avoided the global trade wars and banking collapses of the Depression perhaps due to improved policy. Even so, the global economy remains susceptible to large shocks due to financial innovation and technological change as recent events illustrate.

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Published: Richard S. Grossman & Christopher M. Meissner, 2010. "International aspects of the Great Depression and the crisis of 2007: similarities, differences, and lessons," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 318-338, Autumn.

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