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The Role of Banks in the Subprime Financial Crisis

  • Michele Fratianni

    (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)

  • Francesco Marchionne

    (Universita Politecnica delle Marche)

The ultimate point of origin of the great financial crisis of 2007-2009 can be traced back to an extremely indebted US economy. The collapse of the real estate market in 2006 was the close point of origin of the crisis. The failure rates of subprime mortgages were the first symptom of a credit boom tuned to bust and of a real estate shock. But large default rates on subprime mortgages cannot account for the severity of the crisis. Rather, low-quality mortgages acted as an accelerant to the fire that spread through the entire financial system. The latter had become fragile as a result of several factors that are unique to this crisis: the transfer of assets from the balance sheets of banks to the markets, the creation of complex and opaque assets, the failure of ratings agencies to properly assess the risk of such assets, and the application of fair value accounting. To these novel factors, one must add the now standard failure of regulators and supervisors in spotting and correcting the emerging weaknesses. Accounting data fail to reveal the full extent of the financial maelstrom. Ironically, according to these data, US banks appear to be still adequately capitalized. Yet, bank undercapitalization is the biggest stumbling block to a resolution of the financial crisis.

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File URL: http://kelley.iu.edu/riharbau/RePEc/iuk/wpaper/bepp2009-02-fratianni-marchionne.pdf
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Paper provided by Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy in its series Working Papers with number 2009-02.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2009-02
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  1. Fratianni Michele, 2008. "Financial Crises, Safety Nets and Regulation," Rivista italiana degli economisti, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 169-208.
  2. Pietro Alessandrini & Michele Fratianni, 2008. "Resurrecting Keynes to Stabilize the International Monetary System," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 1, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
  3. Adrian, Tobias & Shin, Hyun Song, 2010. "Liquidity and leverage," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 418-437, July.
  4. Edward M. Gramlich, 2007. "Booms and busts: the case of subprime mortgages," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 105-113.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521068710 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Luc Laeven & Deniz Igan, 2008. "Credit Booms and Lending Standards; Evidence From the Subprime Mortgage Market," IMF Working Papers 08/106, International Monetary Fund.
  7. repec:rie:review:v:13:y:2008:i:2:n:1 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Paolo Savona & Aurelio Maccario, 1998. "On the Relation between Money and Derivatives and its Application to the International Monetary Market," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 637-664, January.
  9. Allen N. Berger & Gregory F. Udell, 2003. "The institutional memory hypothesis and the procyclicality of bank lending behaviour," BIS Working Papers 125, Bank for International Settlements.
  10. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1991. "Asymmetric Information and Financial Crises: A Historical Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 69-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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