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The Financial Crisis: An Inside View

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  • Phillip Swagel

Abstract

This paper reviews the policy response to the 2007–09 financial crisis from the perspective of a senior Treasury official at the time. Government agencies faced severe constraints in addressing the crisis: lack of legal authority for potentially helpful financial stabilization measures, a Congress reluctant to grant such authority, and the need to act quickly in the midst of a market panic. Treasury officials recognized the dangers arising from mounting foreclosures and worked to facilitate limited mortgage modifications, but going further was politically unacceptable because public funds would have gone to some irresponsible borrowers. The suddenness of Bear Stearns’ collapse in March 2008 made rescue necessary and led to preparation of emergency options should conditions worsen. The Treasury saw Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s rescue that summer as necessary to calm markets, despite the moral hazard created. After Lehman Brothers failed in September, the Treasury genuinely intended to buy illiquid securities from troubled institutions but turned to capital injections as the crisis deepened.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Volume (Year): 40 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring) ()
Pages: 1-78

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Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:40:y:2009:i:2009-01:p:1-78

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Keywords: macroeconomics; financial crisis; U.S. government; Bear Stearns; Lehman Brothers; Fannie Mae; Freddie Mac;

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  1. Mark E Schweitzer & Guhan Venkatu, 2009. "Adjustable-rate mortgages and the Libor surprise," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Jan.
  2. John B. Taylor & John C. Williams, 2008. "A black swan in the money market," Working Paper Series 2008-04, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2008. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-08," NBER Working Papers 14612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Larry Cordell & Karen Dynan & Andreas Lehnert & Nellie Liang & Eileen Mauskopf, 2008. "The incentives of mortgage servicers: myths and realities," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Augustin Landier & Kenichi Ueda, 2009. "The Economics of Bank Restructuring," IMF Staff Position Notes 2009/12, International Monetary Fund.
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Cited by:
  1. Chevallier, Julien, 2012. "Global imbalances, cross-market linkages, and the financial crisis : a multivariate Markov-Switching analysis," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/8773, Paris Dauphine University.
  2. Yacine Aït-Sahalia & Jochen Andritzky & Andreas Jobst & Sylwia Nowak & Natalia Tamirisa, 2010. "Market Response to Policy Initiatives during the Global Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Wilson, Linus, 2012. "Anchoring bias in the TARP warrant negotiations," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 63-76.
  4. Charles Bean, 2010. "Joseph Schumpeter Lecture The Great Moderation, The Great Panic, and The Great Contraction," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 289-325, 04-05.
  5. Takeo Hoshi & Anil K Kashyap, 2008. "Will the U.S. Bank Recapitalization Succeed? Eight Lessons from Japan," NBER Working Papers 14401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Veronesi, Pietro & Zingales, Luigi, 2010. "Paulson's gift," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(3), pages 339-368, September.
  7. Edward Simpson Prescott, 2010. "Introduction to the special issue on the Diamond-Dybvig model," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 1Q, pages 1-9.
  8. Hancock, Diana & Passmore, Wayne, 2011. "Did the Federal Reserve's MBS purchase program lower mortgage rates?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(5), pages 498-514.

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