DEFINITION of 'Financial Accelerator'

A financial theory that states that a small change in financial markets can produce a large change in economic conditions and create a feedback loop. The theory is attributed to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and fellow economists Mark Gertler and Simon Gilchrist. Bernanke's belief in the financial accelerator may account for some of his policy decisions, such as cutting interest rates in the wake of the credit crisis of 2008-2010.

BREAKING DOWN 'Financial Accelerator'

The financial accelerator idea may help to clarify the causes of both the booms and busts of the business cycle. For example, Bernanke and Gertler have written that the financial accelerator may explain why the Great Depression was so severe. It may also shed light on the subprime mortgage crisis.

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