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Is Financial Innovation Good for the Economy?

In: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 12

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  • Simon Johnson
  • James Kwak

Abstract

Executive SummaryThere has been a great deal of financial innovation in recent decades but its social value is unclear. In the run-up to 2008, banks took large amounts of risk relative to the size of the economy. This approach was made possible by and sometimes justified in terms of "innovation." But it also created a great deal of downside risk for the economy--including widespread job losses and a big increase in the fiscal deficit.Innovation is among the most powerful forces that shape human society. The improvements in the material standard of living enjoyed by most (though not all) Americans are largely due to innovation. One of the principal arguments for free-market capitalism is that it is the economic system that most encourages innovation, because it allows innovators to capture a significant part of the benefits of their work.Today, financial innovation stands accused of being complicit in the financial crisis that has created the first global recession in decades. (See, e.g., Johnson and Kwak 2010, 105-9). The very innovations that were celebrated by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan earlier this decade--negative-amortization mortgages, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and synthetic CDOs, credit default swaps, and so forth--either amplified or caused the crisis, depending on your viewpoint.However, the conventional wisdom is coalescing around the idea that financial innovation is basically good, but just needs to be watched a little more carefully. As Ben Bernanke said in a speech in May 2007: "We should also always keep in view the enormous economic benefits that flow from a healthy and innovative financial sector. The increasing sophistication and depth of financial markets promote economic growth by allocating capital where it can be most productive. The dispersion of risk more broadly across the financial system has, thus far, increased the resilience of the system and the economy to shocks. When proposing or impleme
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Suggested Citation

  • Simon Johnson & James Kwak, 2012. "Is Financial Innovation Good for the Economy?," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 12, pages 1-15, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12450
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar, 2010. "Introduction to "International Differences in Entrepreneurship"," NBER Chapters, in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 1-13, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Anat R. Admati & Peter M. DeMarzo & Martin F. Hellwig & Paul Pfleiderer, 2010. "Fallacies, Irrelevant Facts, and Myths in the Discussion of Capital Regulation: Why Bank Equity is Not Expensive," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_42, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    3. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar, 2010. "International Differences in Entrepreneurship," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lern08-2, January-J.
    4. Lerner, Josh & Schoar, Antoinette (ed.), 2010. "International Differences in Entrepreneurship," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226473093, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nizar, Muhammad Afdi, 2019. "Baik-Buruk Inovasi Keuangan [Financial Innovation : The Good and the Bad Sides]," MPRA Paper 97921, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Md. Qamruzzaman & Jianguo Wei, 2019. "Financial Innovation and Financial Inclusion Nexus in South Asian Countries: Evidence from Symmetric and Asymmetric Panel Investigation," IJFS, MDPI, vol. 7(4), pages 1-27, October.
    3. Md. Qamruzzaman & Wei Jianguo & Sharmin Jahan & Zhu Yingjun, 2021. "Financial innovation, human capital development, and economic growth of selected South Asian countries: An application of ARDL approach," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 4032-4053, July.
    4. Md. Qamruzzaman & Wei Jianguo, 2017. "Financial innovation and economic growth in Bangladesh," Financial Innovation, Springer;Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, vol. 3(1), pages 1-24, December.
    5. Nasreddine Kaidi & Sami Mensi, 2020. "Financial Development, Income Inequality, and Poverty Reduction: Democratic Versus Autocratic Countries," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 11(4), pages 1358-1381, December.
    6. Md. Qamruzzaman & Jianguo Wei, 2018. "Financial Innovation, Stock Market Development, and Economic Growth: An Application of ARDL Model," IJFS, MDPI, vol. 6(3), pages 1-30, August.
    7. Naudé, Wim & Nagler, Paula, 2021. "The Rise and Fall of German Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 14154, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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