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The Austrian perspective on the global financial crisis: a critique

Listed author(s):
  • Jamie Morgan
  • Ioana Negru

The global financial crisis (GFC) and its aftermath have not just been a challenge to mainstream economics. It has also required a response from heterodox approaches. In the following paper we explore the Austrian response. We argue that Austrians have focused primarily on the role of government intervention in creating the conditions for the GFC. This focus, however, neglects the role of private agent error. We set out the role of collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps as part of the GFC, in order to highlight that private agent error raises several problems of consistency under an Austrian approach. The basis of private agent error is separable from the role of government intervention (specifically the role of interest rates). Furthermore, the role of private agent error is one rooted in approaches to uncertainty, prediction, and control that are antithetical to an Austrian approach. The implication is that one cannot assume that private agents will produce a spontaneous order in the absence of interference that is preferable to one in which there is intervention. A consistent Austrian approach must also recognise its own historical commitments to the institutional dynamics of an economy. However, as the GFC and its aftermath illustrate, this creates a challenge for Austrian adherents to address the problem of potentially productive regulation.

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Article provided by Economic Issues in its journal Economic Issues.

Volume (Year): 17 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (September)
Pages: 27-55

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Handle: RePEc:eis:articl:212morgan
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  1. Robert Wade, 2009. "From global imbalances to global reorganisations," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 539-562, July.
  2. Miller, Merton H., 1986. "Financial Innovation: The Last Twenty Years and the Next," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(04), pages 459-471, December.
  3. Boettke, Peter & Coyne, Christopher, 2011. "The debt-inflation cycle and the global financial crisis," MPRA Paper 32091, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Tarullo, Daniel, 2008. "Banking on Basel: The Future of International Financial Regulation," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 4235, November.
  5. Tony Lawson, 2009. "The current economic crisis: its nature and the course of academic economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 759-777, July.
  6. R. Koppl, 2006. "Austrian economics at the cutting edge," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 19(4), pages 231-241, December.
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