February 2017

The Anatomy of Financial Vulnerabilities and Crises

Seung Jung Lee, Kelly E. Posenau, and Viktors Stebunovs


We extend the framework used in Aikman, Kiley, Lee, Palumbo, and Warusawitharana (2015) that maps vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system to a broader set of advanced and emerging economies. Our extension tracks a broader set of vulnerabilities and, therefore, captures signs of different types of crises. The typical anatomy of the evolution of vulnerabilities before and after a financial crisis is as follows. Pressures in asset valuations materialize, and a build-up of imbalances in the external, financial, and nonfinancial sectors follows. A financial crisis is typically followed by a build-up of sovereign debt imbalances as the government tries to deal with the consequences of the crisis. Our early warnings indicators which aggregate these vulnerabilities predict banking crises better than the Credit-to-GDP gap at long horizons. Our indicators also predict the severity of banking crises and the duration of recessions, as they take into account possible spill-over and amplification channels of financial stress to from one to another sector in the economy. Our indicators are of relevance for macroprudential and crisis management, in part, because they perform better than the Credit-to-GDP gap and do not suffer from the gaps econometric flaws.

Keywords: credit-to-GDP gap; crisis management; financial vulnerabilities; early warning system; financial crises; banking crises; currency crises; macroprudential policy

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17016/IFDP.2017.1191

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: January 09, 2020