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The role of defective mental models in generating the global financial crisis

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  • Thomas D. Willett
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    Abstract

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to stress the role that several defective theories or views of the world played in generating the subprime financial crisis. Design/methodology/approach – This is done by describing these views, showing that they were widely held by relevant decision makers, and by analyzing the flaws in these views. A considerable amount of literature is surveyed in the process. Findings – It was found that these defective views did play a major role in generating the crisis. Research limitations/implications – Implications of the analysis for future research are discussed. Practical implications – Implications of the analysis for reform of private and public sector financial policies are discussed. Originality/value – While most of the arguments in the paper are not new, no paper of which the author is aware pulls them together with the same emphasis on how faulty mental models interacted with dangerous incentive structures to play a prime role in generating the crisis. The paper also references a much wider range of literature on the crisis than any study of which the author is aware. The paper should be of value to any one interested in the causes of the crisis and ways to make future crises less likely. JEL classification: A11, A1, A, A12, G01, G0, G

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Journal of Financial Economic Policy.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 (April)
    Pages: 41-57

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:jfeppp:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:41-57

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    Related research

    Keywords: Decision making; Defective theories; Financial crisis; Financial economics; Financial policy; Future crisis; International financial institutions; Mental models; Subprime;

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    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Kenneth French & Martin Baily & John Campbell & John Cochrane & Douglas Diamond & Darrell Duffie & Anil Kashyap & Frederic Mishkin & Raghuram Rajan & David Scharfstein & Robert Shiller & Hyun Song Shi, 2010. "The Squam Lake Report: Fixing the Financial System," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 22(3), pages 8-21.
    2. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Chapter 1," MPRA Paper 17452, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Riccardo Rebonato, 2007. "Introduction to Plight of the Fortune Tellers: Why We Need to Manage Financial Risk Differently
      [Plight of the Fortune Tellers: Why We Need to Manage Financial Risk Differently]
      ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
    4. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Preface," MPRA Paper 17451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
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