A perspective on the symptoms and causes of the financial crisis
Prior to the 2007–2008 financial crisis, banking sector profits were very high but the profitability of financial intermediation was poor. Using a novel model of banking, this article argues that the high profits were achieved through balance sheet expansion and growing default, liquidity, and term risk mismatches between assets and liabilities. As a result, large banks’ financial leverage rose as they became less liquid, setting the conditions for a systemic banking crisis. This article argues that the increase in financial leverage was possible due to misguided changes in the regulatory framework, specifically, the Basel I capital accord and reductions in reserve requirements. Finally, this article overviews and assesses the policy response in the aftermath of the crisis.
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