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We find that declining bank credit to the private sector will not necessarily constrain the economic recovery after output has bottomed out following a financial crisis.
To obtain this result, we examine data from 39 financial crises, which - as the current one - were preceded by credit booms. In these crises the change in bank credit, either in real terms or relative to GDP, consistently did not correlate with growth during the first two years of the recovery. In the third and fourth year, the correlation becomes statistically significant but remains small in economic terms.
The lack of association between deleveraging and the speed of recovery does not seem to arise due to limited data. In fact, our data shows that increasing competitiveness, via exchange rate depreciations, is statistically and economically significantly associated with faster recoveries.
Our results contradict the current consensus that private sector deleveraging is necessarily harmful for growth.