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An Autopsy of the U.S. Financial System


  • Ross Levine


In this postmortem, I find that the design, implementation, and maintenance of financial policies during the period from 1996 through 2006 were primary causes of the financial system's demise. The evidence is inconsistent with the view that the collapse of the financial system was caused only by the popping of the housing bubble and the herding behavior of financiers rushing to create and market increasingly complex and questionable financial products. Rather, the evidence indicates that regulatory agencies were aware of the growing fragility of the financial system associated with their policies during the decade before the crisis and yet chose not to modify those policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Ross Levine, 2010. "An Autopsy of the U.S. Financial System," NBER Working Papers 15956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15956
    Note: CF IFM PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ross Levine, 1997. "Financial Development and Economic Growth: Views and Agenda," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 688-726, June.
    2. Stephen G. Cecchetti, 2009. "Crisis and Responses: The Federal Reserve in the Early Stages of the Financial Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 51-75, Winter.
    3. Barth,James R. & Caprio,Gerard & Levine,Ross, 2008. "Rethinking Bank Regulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521709309, May.
    4. Pinches, George E & Singleton, J Clay, 1978. "The Adjustment of Stock Prices to Bond Rating Changes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(1), pages 29-44, March.
    5. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2009. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-2008," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 77-100, Winter.
    6. Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2009. "Finance and Inequality: Theory and Evidence," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 287-318, November.
    7. Ravi Jagannathan & Mudit Kapoor & Ernst Schaumburg, 2009. "Causes of the Great Recession of 2007-9: The Financial Crisis is the Symptom not the Disease!," NBER Working Papers 15404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Klein, Alexander & Otsuy, Keisuke, 2013. "Efficiency, Distortions and Factor Utilization during the Interwar Period," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 147, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Alex Klein & Keisuke Otsu, 2013. "Efficiency, Distortions and Factor Utilization during the Interwar Period," Studies in Economics 1317, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    3. Argandoña, Antonio, 2012. "Three ethical dimensions of the financial crisis," IESE Research Papers D/944, IESE Business School.
    4. Bagliano, Fabio C. & Morana, Claudio, 2012. "The Great Recession: US dynamics and spillovers to the world economy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-13.
    5. Cihak, Martin & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Johnston, R. Barry, 2013. "Incentive audits : a new approach to financial regulation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6308, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government

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