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Systemic risk and the financial crisis: a primer

Author

Listed:
  • James B. Bullard
  • Christopher J. Neely
  • David C. Wheelock

Abstract

How did problems in a relatively small portion of the home mortgage market trigger the most severe financial crisis in the United States since the Great Depression? Several developments played a role, including the proliferation of complex mortgage-backed securities and derivatives with highly opaque structures, high leverage, and inadequate risk management. These, in turn, created systemic risk - that is, the risk that a triggering event, such as the failure of a large financial firm, will seriously impair financial markets and harm the broader economy. This article examines the role of systemic risk in the recent financial crisis. Systemic concerns prompted the Federal Reserve and U.S. Department of the Treasury to act to prevent the bankruptcy of several large financial firms in 2008. The authors explain why the failures of financial firms are more likely to pose systemic risks than the failures of nonfinancial firms and discuss possible remedies for such risks. They conclude that the economy could benefit from reforms that reduce systemic risks, such as the creation of an improved regime for resolving failures of large financial firms.

Suggested Citation

  • James B. Bullard & Christopher J. Neely & David C. Wheelock, 2009. "Systemic risk and the financial crisis: a primer," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 403-418.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2009:i:sep:p:403-418:n:v.91no.5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Huei-Jung Fang, 2011. "Compilation and analysis of Taiwan's household debt statistics," IFC Bulletins chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Proceedings of the IFC Conference on "Initiatives to address data gaps revealed by the financial crisis", Basel, 25-26 August 2010, volume 34, pages 564-573 Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Craig P. Aubuchon & David C. Wheelock, 2010. "The geographic distribution and characteristics of U.S. bank failures, 2007-2010: do bank failures still reflect local economic conditions?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 395-415.
    3. Piero Ferri, 2011. "Macroeconomics of Growth Cycles and Financial Instability," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14260, June.
    4. Costa Cabral, Nazare, 2010. "Breve guia temático e bibliográfico sobre o estudo da actual crise financeira e económica
      [Short thematic guide to the study of current financial and economic crisis]
      ," MPRA Paper 20743, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Poitras, Geoffrey & Zanotti, Giovanna, 2016. "Mortgage contract design and systemic risk immunization," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 320-331.
    6. Camille Cornand & Céline Gimet, 2011. "The 2007-2008 financial crisis : Is there evidence of disaster myopia ?," Working Papers 1125, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    7. Carola Frydman & Eric Hilt & Lily Y. Zhou, 2015. "Economic Effects of Runs on Early "Shadow Banks": Trust Companies and the Impact of the Panic of 1907," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(4), pages 902-940.
    8. Tolga Umut Kuzubas & Burak Saltoglu & Can Sever, 2014. "Systemic Risk and Heterogeneous Leverage in Banking Network: Implications for Banking Regulation," Working Papers 2014/01, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    9. Gabriele Galati & Richhild Moessner, 2013. "Macroprudential Policy – A Literature Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(5), pages 846-878, December.
    10. David C. Wheelock, 2010. "Lessons learned? comparing the Federal Reserve's responses to the crises of 1929-1933 and 2007-2009," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 89-108.

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    Keywords

    Financial crises ; Systemic risk;

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