Three economists looked at recessions over 138 years and found that highly leveraged, credit-intensive booms resulted in bigger, more painful busts. From their paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research:
Based on a study of nearly 200 recession episodes in 14 advanced countries between 1870 and 2008, we document a new stylized fact of the modern business cycle: more credit-intensive booms tend to be followed by deeper recessions and slower recoveries. . .The aftermath of leveraged booms is associated with somewhat slower growth, investment spending and credit growth than usual. Yet we also show that the economic costs of crises vary considerably depending on the run-up in leverage during the preceding boom. . .Generally speaking, a leverage build-up during the boom seems to heighten the vulnerability of economies to shocks.