NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Anatomy of a Credit Crisis: The Boom and Bust in Farm Land Prices in the United States in the 1920s.

Raghuram Rajan, Rodney Ramcharan

NBER Working Paper No. 18027
Issued in April 2012
NBER Program(s):   CF   DAE   ME

Does credit availability exacerbate asset price inflation? What channels could it work through? What are the long run consequences? In this paper we address these questions by examining the farm land price boom (and bust) in the United States that preceded the Great Depression. We find that credit availability likely had a direct effect on inflating land prices. Credit availability may have also amplified the relationship between the perceived improvement in fundamentals and land prices. When the perceived fundamentals soured, however, areas with higher ex ante credit availability suffered a greater fall in land prices, and experienced higher bank failure rates. Land prices stayed low for a number of decades after the bust in areas that had higher credit availability, suggesting that the effects of booms and busts induced by credit availability might be persistent. We draw lessons for regulatory policy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18027

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