21.04.2021: Sasha Indarte – Financial crises and the transmission of monetary policy to consumer credit markets

How does the health of creditors affect the pass-through of monetary policy to households? In a financial crisis, asset losses among creditors can either dampen or amplify the effects of monetary policy on lending, depending on how these losses and policies interact with financial frictions. Frictions such as leverage constraints may hinder creditor responses, however easing may instead alleviate frictions that would otherwise constrain lending. Using data on the universe of US credit unions, I document that asset losses increase the sensitivity of consumer credit to monetary policy. Identification exploits plausibly exogenous variation in asset losses and high frequency identification of monetary policy shocks. I find that a one standard deviation asset loss increases the response of credit union lending to a 10 basis point fall in the two-year Treasury rate from a 0.86 to 1.15 percentage point increase. The estimates imply that constraints on monetary policy become more costly in a financial crisis characterized by creditor asset losses and that an additional benefit of monetary easing is that it weakens the causal, contractionary effect of asset losses.

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