Peter F. Basile

Department of Economics
Rutgers University
75 Hamilton Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2015Towards a History of the Junk Bond Market, 1910-1955
with Sung Won Kang, John Landon-Lane, Hugh Rockoff: w21559
We present a new monthly index of the yield on junk (high yield) bonds from 1910-1955. We then use the index to reexamine some of the main debates about the financial history of the interwar years. A close look at junk bond yields: (1) strengthens the view that the decline in lending standards in the late 1920s was modest at best: (2) casts doubt on the view that the banking crisis that began in 1930 disrupted financial markets because banks liquidated their holdings of risky bonds; (3) strengthens the view that the cost of capital rose substantially in the early 1930s and remained high for the rest of the decade; (4) casts doubt on the view that financial markets entered a liquidity trap in the second half of the 1930s; and (5) strengthens the case for believing that junk bond yields con...
July 2010Money and Interest Rates in the United States during the Great Depression
with John Landon-Lane, Hugh Rockoff: w16204
This paper reexamines the debate over whether the United States fell into a liquidity trap in the 1930s. We first review the literature on the liquidity trap focusing on Keynes's discussion of "absolute liquidity preference" and the division that soon emerged between Keynes, who believed that a liquidity trap had not been reached, and the American Keynesians who believed that the United States had fallen into a liquidity trap. We then explore several interest rates that have been neglected in previous analyses: yields on corporate debt (from Aaa to junk), bank lending rates, and mortgage rates. In general, our results strengthen the case for believing that there was no liquidity trap in the 1930s in the sense of one that covered the full spectrum of interest rates. The small segment of tim...
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