Revised article published in American Economic Review (March 2000): 30-45.
The dramatic 70 percent decline in Japanese commercial real estate prices from their peak in 1990 provides a natural experiment to test the extent to which a loan supply shock can affect real economic activity. Because the shock was external to U.S. credit markets, yet connected through the substantial penetration of U.S. lending markets by Japanese banks, this event allows us to identify an exogenous loan supply shock and ultimately link that shock to construction activity in major commercial real estate markets in the United States. We use panel data that exploit the variation across geographically distinct commercial real estate markets in the United States, both in degree of Japanese bank penetration and in local demand conditions, to establish conclusively that loan supply shocks emanating from loan problems in Japan had real effects on economic activity in the United States. Revised 1999.