Lessons from the financial crisis: Failure of markets or failure of regulation?

Subramanian, K. (2011) Lessons from the financial crisis: Failure of markets or failure of regulation? Macroeconomics and Finance in Emerging Market Economies, 4 (2). pp. 343-349. ISSN 1752-0851

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The popular, demagogic narrative after the global financial system's collapse in 2008 has held that the financial crisis signalled the failure of capitalism. However, regulators across the world must realize that the financial crisis was not brought about by the failure of markets but by the failure of governments to appropriately regulate markets. Beginning in the 1980s, and continuing over the quarter-century that followed, regulators afforded the world of big finance an unaffordable luxury: Insurance against possible failure. As a result, banks and financial institutions became adept at turning their insulation from disorderly failure, as enforced by free markets, into insulation from market discipline, as inflicted by myopic regulators. This 'too big to fail' syndrome combined with the incorrect belief perpetrated by the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan that financial companies, powered by a rational motive not to lose money, could police themselves and one another. In turn, such sanguine beliefs led to considerable over-supply of financial innovation. The supply created its own demand as the financial world operated under the implicit guarantee (and market distortion) created by the 'too big to fail' syndrome. The errors laid bare by the financial crisis clearly call for regulatory reform. But in designing that reform, regulators across the world should avoid the temptation to seek heavy-handed new approaches. Instead, policymakers should look to the long-term success of the system of rules whose decay brought about the crisis. Prudent regulations must seek to reinforce the fundamental principle that no one, however big or small, can be made immune to failure. Such pro-market regulation of finance is essential to preserving and fostering countries' economic futures.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Finance
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2014 11:23
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2023 10:13
URI: https://eprints.exchange.isb.edu/id/eprint/83

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