Credit and growth: Which drives which?

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This is a question that is stalking financial policymakers: Does credit growth drive economic growth, or does growth in the real sector drive credit growth? If the latter, then policymakers in emerging markets might do well to repress the financial system - the likelihood of crises will probably be reduced, while growth will not be harmed. But a new paper provides a bit of evidence that points in the opposite direction. From Does Access to External Finance Improve Productivity:

This paper examines the effect of access to finance on productivity. We exploit an exogenous shift in demand for U.S. corn to expose county-level productivity responses in the presence of varying levels of access to finance. The exogenous shift in demand for corn is due to a boom in ethanol production, which is a result of a number of complementary forces (rising crude oil prices, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and new federal tax incentives). We find that counties in the midwestern United States with the lowest levels of bank deposits have been unable to increase their corn yields as much as other counties. This result demonstrates the positive impact of access to finance on productivity.

Now, if we could just replicate this kind of study in an emerging market to see whether the results hold... 


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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