September 2017 issue contents
Monetary Policy, Private Debt and Financial Stability Risks

by Gregory H. Bauera and Eleonora Granzierab


Can monetary policy be used to promote financial stability? We answer this question by estimating the impact of a monetary policy shock on private-sector leverage and the likelihood of a financial crisis. Impulse responses obtained from a panel VAR model of eighteen advanced countries suggest that the debt-to-GDP ratio rises in the short run following an unexpected tightening in monetary policy. As a consequence, the likelihood of a financial crisis increases, as estimated from a panel logit regression. However, in the long run, output recovers and higher borrowing costs discourage new lending, leading to a deleveraging of the private sector. A lower debt-to-GDP ratio in turn reduces the likelihood of a financial crisis. These results suggest that monetary policy can achieve a less risky financial system in the long run but could fuel financial instability in the short run. We also find that the ultimate effects of a monetary policy tightening on the probability of a financial crisis depend on the leverage of the private sector: the higher the initial value of the debt-to-GDP ratio, the more beneficial the monetary policy intervention in the long run, but the more destabilizing in the short run.

JEL Codes: E52, E58, C21, C23.

Full article (PDF, 37 pages, 3247 kb)

Discussion by Òscar Jordà

a Bank of Canada 
b Bank of Finland