Do credit contractions trigger social unrest? To answer this question, we turn to a natural experiment from 1930s China, where the 1933 U.S. Silver Purchase program acts as a shock to bank lending. We assemble a hand-collected dataset of loan contracts between banks and firms, labor unrest episodes, and underground Communist Party penetration. The Silver Purchase shock results in a severe credit contraction, and firms borrowing from banks with a larger exposure to it experience increased labor unrest and Communist Party penetration among their workers. These findings contribute to understanding the socio-political consequences of credit shocks.
- credit shocks
- social unrest