Research Discussion Paper – RDP 8903 The Relationship between Financial Indicators and Economic Activity: Some Further Evidence


This paper focusses on the empirical relationship between financial indicators (monetary and credit aggregates and short-term interest rates) and measures of economic activity.

It aims to supplement an earlier paper by Bullock, Morris and Stevens (1988) (BMS), which explored these issues. BMS tentatively concluded that short-term interest rates and the narrow aggregate M1 had a reasonably good leading relationship with private final demand. Broad monetary and credit aggregates tended to be lagging indicators, and the intermediate aggregates (M3 and bank lending) presented a mixed picture. This earlier paper relied on simple graphical and correlation-based techniques to draw these conclusions.

The same questions are addressed in this paper, this time using more rigorous statistical testing techniques. Vector auto-regression (VAR) analysis is used to identify leading and lagging relationships among the data. All data are pre-tested for the presence of deterministic trends and unit roots, and differenced and detrended accordingly, before the models are estimated. Estimation is over the period 1969–1988 (given available data), using seasonally adjusted quarterly series.

Results confirm that the broader aggregates generally lag activity, however there is no strong evidence of a leading relationship between the short-term interest rate (or M1) and activity. The latter suggests a complex relationship between interest rates and activity over time; a process influenced by the operation of monetary policy, which cannot be satisfactorily unravelled using the techniques employed here.

The data set of BMS is also extended in this paper to allow a preliminary examination of the tradeable goods sector. Models including the exchange rate, foreign demand and prices, as well as domestic activity and financial variables are estimated. Results from these tests suggest an effect of the exchange rate on imports and exports, which is consistent with a link between monetary policy and the tradeable goods sector.

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