Banking crises and income inequality

With the Occupy X movement, discussion about the unequal distribution of income has flared up. At the same time, we are still not over the banking crisis. Several people have linked the two, saying that the large banking sector has lead to more income inequality and that the rich have benefited form the crisis at the expense of the poor. We probably do not yet the data to corroborate any of this, but we have data that allow to look at income inequality through other banking crises.

This is what Luca Agnello and Ricardo Sousa set out to do with a panel dataset from OECD and non-OECD countries. They find some regularities: there is a run-up of income inequality before the crisis hits especially in non-OECD countries; it declines fast thereafter, especially in OECD countries; better access to credit reduces income inequality; and the size of government has no impact on income inequality. The estimates of the paper are rather crude, there is just a lag on the Gini coefficient. I am sure one can tease out more interesting dynamics with a structural vector auto-regression. But the results are still interesting as is.

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