Was the Great Depression a low-level equilibrium?

John Dagsvik, Boyan Jovanovic

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    If the Great Depression indeed was a bad equilibrium, then there was another, better equilibrium that the economy might have been in, but wasn't. This is the multiple equilibrium explanation. But another explanation is that equilibrium was unique, and that there were especially bad real shocks that caused output and employment to fall so much. The data tentatively support the second story - the Depression can not be blamed on a massive coordination failure. This conclusion hinges, however, on the assumption that the money supply did not act as an equilibrium-selection device. But since in the U.S. at least, money is not the best leading indicator, there are more natural variables that could have played this role, and we find this assumption reasonable. If this is correct, our results offer little, if any, support to the view that the Depression was the result of a coordination failure.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1711-1729
    Number of pages19
    JournalEuropean Economic Review
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - Dec 1994


    • Business cycles
    • Coordination failure

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Finance
    • Economics and Econometrics


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