Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises
Debtors bear the brunt of a decline in asset prices associated with financial crises and policies aimed at partial debt relief may be warranted to boost growth in the midst of crises. Drawing on the US experience during the Great Recession of 2008-09 and historical evidence in a large panel of countries, we explore why the political system may fail to deliver such policies. We find that during the Great Recession creditors were able to use the political system more effectively to protect their interests through bailouts. More generally we show that politically countries become more polarized and fractionalized following financial crises. This results in legislative stalemate, making it less likely that crises lead to meaningful macroeconomic reforms.
We are grateful to Matilde Bombardini and Steve Davis for critical discussion and to participants to the American Economic Association 2012 meetings presentation for their comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Atif Mian & Amir Sufi & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 1-28, April. citation courtesy of