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The "Other" Imbalance and the Financial Crisis

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero

Abstract

One of the main economic villains before the crisis was the presence of large "global imbalances." The concern was that the U.S. would experience a sudden stop of capital flows, which would unavoidably drag the world economy into a deep recession. However, when the crisis finally did come, the mechanism did not at all resemble the feared sudden stop. Quite the opposite, during the crisis net capital inflows to the U.S. were a stabilizing rather than a destabilizing source. I argue instead that the root imbalance was of a different kind: The entire world had an insatiable demand for safe debt instruments that put an enormous pressure on the U.S. financial system and its incentives (and this was facilitated by regulatory mistakes). The crisis itself was the result of the negative feedback loop between the initial tremors in the financial industry created to bridge the safe-assets gap and the panic associated with the chaotic unraveling of this complex industry. Essentially, the financial sector was able to create "safe" assets from the securitization of lower quality ones, but at the cost of exposing the economy to a systemic panic. This structural problem can be alleviated if governments around the world explicitly absorb a larger share of the systemic risk. The options for doing this range from surplus countries rebalancing their portfolios toward riskier assets, to private-public solutions where asset-producer countries preserve the good parts of the securitization industry while removing the systemic risk from the banks' balance sheets. Such public-private solutions could be designed with fee structures that could incorporate all kind of too-big- or too-interconnected-to-fail considerations.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo J. Caballero, 2010. "The "Other" Imbalance and the Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15636
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2001. "International and domestic collateral constraints in a model of emerging market crises," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 513-548, December.
    2. Oliver Hart & Luigi Zingales, 2011. "A New Capital Regulation for Large Financial Institutions," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 453-490.
    3. Guillermo A. Calvo & Ernesto Talvi, 2005. "Sudden Stop, Financial Factors and Economic Collpase in Latin America: Learning from Argentina and Chile," NBER Working Papers 11153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Didier, Tatiana & Llovet, Ruth & Schmukler, Sergio L., 2017. "International financial integration of East Asia and Pacific," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 52-66.
    2. repec:mes:postke:v:39:y:2016:i:4:p:444-472 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:oup:ecpoli:v:32:y:2017:i:90:p:175-219. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Photis Lysandrou, 2014. "Post-Keynesian stock-flow models after the subprime crisis: the need for micro-foundations," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 11(1), pages 113-126, April.
    5. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Sam Langfield & Marco Pagano & Ricardo Reis & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Dimitri Vayanos, 2017. "ESBies: safety in the tranches," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(90), pages 175-219.
    6. Bertaut, Carol C. & Tabova, Alexandra M. & Wong, Vivian, 2014. "The Replacement of Safe Assets: Evidence from the U.S. Bond Portfolio," International Finance Discussion Papers 1123, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Bhardwaj, Geetesh & Sengupta, Rajdeep, 2012. "Subprime mortgage design," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1503-1519.
    8. Daniela Bragoli & Piero Ganugi & Giancarlo Ianulardo, 2013. "Gini’s transvariation analysis: an application on financial crises in developing countries," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 153-174, February.
    9. Acharya, Viral & Naqvi, Hassan, 2012. "The seeds of a crisis: A theory of bank liquidity and risk taking over the business cycle," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 349-366.
    10. David Longworth, 2012. "Combatting the Dangers Lurking in the Shadows: The Macroprudential Regulation of Shadow Banking," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 361, September.
    11. Goda, Thomas & Lysandrou, Photis & Stewart, Chris, 2013. "The contribution of US bond demand to the US bond yield conundrum of 2004–2007: An empirical investigation," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 113-136.
    12. Juann H. Hung & Rong Qian, 2010. "Why Is China's Saving Rate So High? A Comparative Study of Cross-Country Panel Data: Working Paper 2010-07," Working Papers 21920, Congressional Budget Office.
    13. Serven, Luis & Nguyen, Ha, 2010. "Global imbalances before and after the global crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5354, The World Bank.
    14. Margaux MacDonald, 2015. "Patterns of International Capital Flows and Productivity Growth: New Evidence," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(5), pages 846-872, November.
    15. Diego Avanzini & Alejandro Jara, 2013. "A PCA Approach to Common Risk Exposures in the Chilean Banking System," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 707, Central Bank of Chile.
    16. Bertaut, Carol & DeMarco, Laurie Pounder & Kamin, Steven & Tryon, Ralph, 2012. "ABS inflows to the United States and the global financial crisis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 219-234.
    17. Zoltan Pozsar, 2011. "Institutional Cash Pools and the Triffin Dilemma of the U.S. Banking System," IMF Working Papers 11/190, International Monetary Fund.
    18. Thomas Goda & Photis Lysandrou & Chris Stewart, 2011. "The contribution of us bond demand to the us bond yield conundrum of 2004 to 2007: an empirical investigation," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO CIEF 010719, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT.
    19. Claudio Borio & Piti Disyatat, 2011. "Global imbalances and the financial crisis: Link or no link?," BIS Working Papers 346, Bank for International Settlements.
    20. Enisse Kharroubi, 2015. "Liquidity Squeeze, Abundant Funding and Macroeconomic Volatility," BIS Working Papers 498, Bank for International Settlements.
    21. Luis Servén & Ha Nguyen, 2013. "Global Imbalances: Origins and Prospects," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 191-219, August.
    22. Carol C. Bertaut & Laurie Pounder Demarco & Steven B. Kamin & Ralph W. Tryon, 2011. "ABS inflows to the United States and the global financial crisis," International Finance Discussion Papers 1028, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F30 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - General
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General

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