Financial information is a both a public resource and a commodity that market participants produce and distribute in connection with other financial products and services. Legislators, regulators, and other policy makers must therefore balance the goal of making information transparent, accessible, and useful for the collective benefit of society against the need to maintain appropriate incentives for information originators and intermediaries.
Financial crises have some common storylines, among them bursting asset bubbles, bank failures, sharp tightening of credit, and downturn in trade. They are also different from one another. Some start with sudden reversal of international capital flows, others with domestic credit implosions. A challenge to economic research is to integrate common as well as disparate threads into a coherent analytical framework that is at the same time empirically testable.
The global financial crisis has prompted economists to rethink fundamental questions on how governments should intervene in the financial sector. Many countries have already begun to reform the taxation and regulation of the financial sector—in the United States, for example, the Dodd–Frank Act became law in 2010; in Europe, different countries have introduced additional taxes on the sector and made substantial progress toward a banking union for the eurozone. Only recently, however, has a new field in economics emerged to study the interplay between public finance and banking.
Portfolio management is a tough business. Each day, managers face the challenges of an ever-changing and unforgiving market, where strategies and processes that worked yesterday may not work today, or tomorrow. The usual advice for improving portfolio performance—refining your strategy, staying within your style, doing better research, trading more efficiently—is important, but doesn’t seem to affect outcomes sufficiently.
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed by Congress in 2010 largely in response to the financial crisis, created the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; among other provisions, it limits proprietary trading by banks, changes the way swaps are traded, and curtails the use of credit ratings. The effects of Dodd–Frank remain a matter for speculation; more than half of the regulatory rulemaking called for in the bill has yet to be completed.
Spreadsheets are used daily by millions of people for tasks that range from organizing a list of addresses to carrying out complex economic simulations. Spreadsheet programs are easy to learn and convenient to use because they have a clear visual model and a simple efficient underlying computational model. Yet although the basic spreadsheet model could be extended, improved, or otherwise experimented with in many ways, there is no coherently designed, reasonably efficient open source spreadsheet implementation that is a suitable platform for such experiments.
Corporate managers who face both strategic uncertainty and market uncertainty confront a classic trade-off between commitment and flexibility. They can stake a claim by making a large capital investment today, influencing their rivals’ behavior, or they can take a “wait and see” approach to avoid adverse market consequences tomorrow.
In assigning blame for the recent economic crisis, many have pointed to the proliferation of new, complex financial products--mortgage securitization in particular--as being at the heart of the meltdown. The prominent economists from academia, policy institutions, and financial practice who contribute to this book, however, take a more nuanced view of financial innovation. They argue that it was not too much innovation but too little innovation--and the lack of balance between debt-related products and asset-related products--that lies behind the crisis.
The recent financial crisis shook not only the global economy but also conventional wisdom about economic policy. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, policy makers reversed course and acted on an unprecedented scale. The policy response was remarkable both for its magnitude and for the variety of measures undertaken. This book examines both the major role central banks played in the crisis and the role they might play in preventing or preparing for future crises.
The recent financial crisis was an accident, a “perfect storm” fueled by an unforeseeable confluence of events that unfortunately combined to bring down the global financial systems. Or at least this is the story told and retold by a chorus of luminaries that includes Timothy Geithner, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, and Alan Greenspan.