IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sucker Punched by the Invisible Hand


  • Fligstein, Neil
  • Goldstein, Adam


The worldwide financial crisis of 2007-2010 was set off by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the U.S. This crisis caused widespread banking failure in the U.S. and forced the federal government to provide a massive bailout to the financial sector. The crisis simultaneously reverberated to banks around the world, and eventually brought about a worldwide recession. This paper documents why Western European countries were so susceptible to the housing price downturn. We explore various mechanisms by which the financial crisis might have spread including the existence of similar regulatory schemes, government deficits and current account imbalances, export connectedness, and the presence of a housing bubble. We present a surprising result: European banks went down because they had joined the market in the U.S. for mortgage backed securities and funded them by borrowing in the asset backed commercial paper market. They were pursuing the same strategies to make profit as the American banks, and when the housing market turned down, they suffered the same fate as their U.S. counterparts. Our study makes a broader theoretical point suggesting that subsequent studies of global finance and financial markets need to know something about the identities and strategies of the banks that structure the main markets for different products. This insight has implications for the literatures on financialization, globalization, and the sociology of finance.

Suggested Citation

  • Fligstein, Neil & Goldstein, Adam, 2012. "Sucker Punched by the Invisible Hand," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt1754s7tz, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt1754s7tz

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fligstein, Neil & Goldstein, Adam, 2010. "The Anatomy of the Mortgage Securitization Crisis," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt9bh786v2, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    2. Tobias Adrian & Brian Begalle & Adam Copeland & Antoine Martin, 2013. "Repo and Securities Lending," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Topography: Systemic Risk and Macro Modeling, pages 131-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Rose, Andrew K. & Spiegel, Mark M., 2011. "Cross-country causes and consequences of the crisis: An update," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 309-324, April.
    4. Gorton, Gary B., 2010. "Slapped by the Invisible Hand: The Panic of 2007," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199734153, June.
    5. Acharya, Viral V. & Schnabl, Philipp & Suarez, Gustavo, 2013. "Securitization without risk transfer," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 515-536.
    6. Fabian Valencia & Luc Laeven, 2008. "Systemic Banking Crises; A New Database," IMF Working Papers 08/224, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Moser, Thomas, 2003. "What Is International Financial Contagion?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(2), pages 157-178, Summer.
    8. Frieden, Jeffry A., 1991. "Invested interests: the politics of national economic policies in a world of global finance," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(04), pages 425-451, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Social and Behavioral Sciences; Worldwide Financial Crisis of 2007-2010;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt1754s7tz. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.