The Tail that Wags the Economy: Beliefs and Persistent Stagnation
The Great Recession was a deep downturn with long-lasting effects on credit, employment and output. While narratives about its causes abound, the persistence of GDP below pre-crisis trends remains puzzling. We propose a simple persistence mechanism that can be quantfied and combined with existing models. Our key premise is that agents don't know the true distribution of shocks, but use data to estimate it non-parametrically. Then, transitory events, especially extreme ones, generate persistent changes in beliefs and macro outcomes. Embedding this mechanism in a neoclassical model, we find that it endogenously generates persistent drops in economic activity after tail events.
We thank our four anonymous referees and our Editor, Harald Uhlig, as well as Mark Gertler, Mike Golosov, Mike Chernov, Francois Gourio, Christian Hellwig and participants at the Paris Conference on Economic Uncertainty, IMF Secular Stagnation conference, Einaudi, SED and NBER summer institute for helpful comments and Philippe Andrade, Jennifer La'O, Franck Portier and Robert Ulbricht for their insightful discussions. We thank Adrien Avernas for providing us the data on credit spreads of bank holding companies. Veldkamp and Venkateswaran gratefully acknowledge financial support from the NYU Stern Center for Global Economy and Business. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Julian Kozlowski & Laura Veldkamp & Venky Venkateswaran, 2020. "The Tail That Wags the Economy: Beliefs and Persistent Stagnation," Journal of Political Economy, vol 128(8), pages 2839-2879.