Weathering the financial crisis: good policy or good luck?

Working Papers No 351
August 2011

Abstract:

The macroeconomic performance of individual countries varied markedly during the 2007-09 global financial crisis. While China's growth never dipped below 6% and Australia's worst quarter was no growth, the economies of Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom suffered annualised GDP contractions of 5-10% per quarter for five to seven quarters in a row. We exploit this cross-country variation to examine whether a country's macroeconomic performance over this period was the result of pre-crisis policy decisions or just good luck. The answer is a bit of both. Better-performing economies featured a better-capitalised banking sector, lower loan-to-deposit ratios, a current account surplus, high foreign exchange reserves and low levels and growth rates of private sector credit-to-GDP. In other words, sound policy decisions and institutions reduced their vulnerability to the financial crisis. But these economies also featured a low level of financial openness and less exposure to US creditors, suggesting that good luck played a part.

JEL Classification: E65, F44

Keywords: financial crisis, principal components