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The "Other" Imbalance and the Financial Crisis

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero

Abstract

One of the main economic villains before the crisis was the presence of large “global imbalances.” The concern was that the U.S. would experience a sudden stop of capital flows, which would unavoidably drag the world economy into a deep recession. However, when the crisis finally did come, the mechanism did not at all resemble the feared sudden stop. Quite the opposite, during the crisis net capital inflows to the U.S. were a stabilizing rather than a destabilizing source. I argue instead that the root imbalance was of a different kind: The entire world had an insatiable demand for safe debt instruments that put an enormous pressure on the U.S. financial system and its incentives (and this was facilitated by regulatory mistakes). The crisis itself was the result of the negative feedback loop between the initial tremors in the financial industry created to bridge the safe-assets gap and the panic associated with the chaotic unraveling of this complex industry. Essentially, the financial sector was able to create “safe” assets from the securitization of lower quality ones, but at the cost of exposing the economy to a systemic panic. This structural problem can be alleviated if governments around the world explicitly absorb a larger share of the systemic risk. The options for doing this range from surplus countries rebalancing their portfolios toward riskier assets, to private-public solutions where asset-producer countries preserve the good parts of the securitization industry while removing the systemic risk from the banks’ balance sheets. Such public-private solutions could be designed with fee structures that could incorporate all kind of too-big- or too-interconnected-to-fail considerations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15636.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15636

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Cited by:
  1. David Longworth, 2012. "Combatting the Dangers Lurking in the Shadows: The Macroprudential Regulation of Shadow Banking," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 361, September.
  2. Zoltan Pozsar, 2011. "Institutional Cash Pools and the Triffin Dilemma of the U.S. Banking System," IMF Working Papers 11/190, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Diego Avanzini & Alejandro Jara, 2013. "A PCA Approach to Common Risk Exposures in the Chilean Banking System," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 707, Central Bank of Chile.
  4. Thomas Goda & Photis Lysandrou & Chris Stewart, 2011. "The contribution of us bond demand to the us bond yield conundrum of 2004 to 2007: an empirical investigation," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO CIEF 010719, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT.
  5. Juann H. Hung & Rong Qian, 2010. "Why Is China's Saving Rate So High? A Comparative Study of Cross-Country Panel Data: Working Paper 2010-07," Working Papers 21920, Congressional Budget Office.
  6. Acharya, Viral V & Naqvi, Hassan, 2012. "The Seeds of a Crisis: A Theory of Bank Liquidity and Risk-Taking over the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8851, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Bhardwaj, Geetesh & Sengupta, Rajdeep, 2012. "Subprime mortgage design," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1503-1519.
  8. Bertaut, Carol & DeMarco, Laurie Pounder & Kamin, Steven & Tryon, Ralph, 2012. "ABS inflows to the United States and the global financial crisis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 219-234.
  9. Goda, Thomas & Lysandrou, Photis & Stewart, Chris, 2013. "The contribution of US bond demand to the US bond yield conundrum of 2004–2007: An empirical investigation," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 113-136.
  10. Carol Bertaut & Laurie Pounder DeMarco & Steve Kamin & Ralph Tryon, 2011. "ABS inflows to the United States and the global financial crisis," International Finance Discussion Papers 1028, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Luis Servén & Ha Nguyen, 2013. "Global Imbalances: Origins and Prospects," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 191-219, August.
  12. Serven, Luis & Nguyen, Ha, 2010. "Global imbalances before and after the global crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5354, The World Bank.
  13. Claudio Borio & Piti Disyatat, 2011. "Global imbalances and the financial crisis: Link or no link?," BIS Working Papers 346, Bank for International Settlements.
  14. Daniela Bragoli & Piero Ganugi & Giancarlo Ianulardo, 2013. "Gini’s transvariation analysis: an application on financial crises in developing countries," Empirica, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 153-174, February.

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