Freie Universität Berlin, School of Business & Economics, Berlin
Using new quarterly U.S. data for the past 120 years, I show that sudden reversals in equity and credit market sentiment approximated by several measures of corporate securities issuance are highly predictive of banking crises and recessions. Deviations in equity issuance from historical averages also help to explain economic activity over the business cycle. Crises and recessions often occur independently of domestic leverage, making the credit-to-GDP gap a deficient early-warning indicator historically. The fact that equity issuance reversals predict banking crises without elevated private credit levels, suggests that changes in investor sentiment can trigger financial crises even in the absence of underlying banking fragility.