Many commentators have compared the global crisis to the Great Depression. This column explores lessons that can be applied to help shape expectations and guide exit policy for central banks. It argues that the need for credit stimulus should end when failed intermediaries are resolved and positive net present value credits are reallocated to solvent lenders.
During the financial crisis of 2007-8 and the ensuing recession, policymakers undertook a variety of actions aimed at alleviating distress (Eichengreen and O’Rourke). In many ways, US policymaking during the current financial and economic crisis can be viewed as a reaction to the events of the 1930s and as an attempt to avoid a similarly severe recession. Some economists have suggested that, without the plethora of stimulus policies the severity of the crisis would have been significantly worse and similar in magnitude to the Great Depression (Del Negro et al. 2009).