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The Financial Alchemy that Failed

Marcus Miller ()

The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) from University of Warwick, Department of Economics

Abstract: With his conception of successive Ages of Capitalism, Anatole Kaletsky provides a canvas broad enough to encompass the banking crisis of 2008 and much more. After briefly outlining the Four Ages he identifies, we focus on the period of the Great Moderation when Inflation Targeting seemed to have solved the problem macroeconomic management, until it ended in spectacular failure. The rapid growth of cross-border banking, with securitized assets funded by wholesale money, evidently posed threats to financial stability that had been ignored by a regime targeting consumer prices. We look at three: the pecuniary externalities exerted by asset price changes on investment banking; information failures leading to an exaggerated banking boom; and the risk of insolvency in the subsequent bank run. The financial system pre-crash was, it seems, flawed by two Fallacies of Composition: by regulation that reckoned making individual banks safe guaranteed systemic stability; and a business model that reckoned securitization ensured liquidity whenever necessary. Finally, we discuss how, in different countries, the law has variously been invoked to handle reckless banking.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mac and nep-pke
Date: 2018
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Working Paper: The Financial Alchemy that Failed (2019) Downloads
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