IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ums/papers/2008-14.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Structural Causes of the Global Financial Crisis: A Critical Assessment of the ‘New Financial Architecture’

Author

Listed:
  • James Crotty

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Abstract

The main thesis of this paper is that the ultimate cause of the current global financial crisis is to be found in the deeply flawed institutions and practices of what is often referred to as the New Financial Architecture (NFA) – a globally integrated system of giant bank conglomerates and the so-called ‘shadow banking system’ of investment banks, hedge funds and bank-created Special Investment Vehicles. The institutions are either lightly and badly regulated or not regulated at all, an arrangement defended by and celebrated in the dominant financial economics theoretical paradigm – the theory of efficient capital markets. The NFA has generated a series of ever-bigger financial crises that have been met by larger and larger government bailouts. After a brief review of the historical evolution of the NFA, the paper analyses its structural flaws. The problems discussed in order are: 1) the theoretical foundation of the NFA – the theory of efficient capital markets – is very weak and the celebratory narrative of the NFA accepted by regulators is seriously misleading; 2) widespread perverse incentives embedded in the NFA generated excessive risk-taking throughout financial markets; 3) mortgage-backed securities central to the boom were so complex and nontransparent that they could not possibly be priced correctly; their prices were bound to collapse once the excessive optimism of the boom faded; 4) contrary to the narrative, excessive risk built up in giant banks during the boom; and 5) the NFA generated high leverage and high systemic risk, with channels of contagion that transmitted problems in the US subprime mortgage market around the world. Understanding the profound problems of the NFA is a necessary step toward the creation of a new and improved set of financial institutions and practices likely to achieve core policy objectives such as faster real sector growth with lower inequality. JEL Categories:

Suggested Citation

  • James Crotty, 2008. "Structural Causes of the Global Financial Crisis: A Critical Assessment of the ‘New Financial Architecture’," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2008-14, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2008-14
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.umass.edu/economics/publications/2008-14.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. L. Randall Wray, 2006. "Can Basel II Enhance Financial Stability?: A Pessimistic View," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_84, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Is the 2007 U.S. Sub-Prime Financial Crisis So Different? An International Historical Comparison," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 56(3), pages 291-299, September.
    3. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2008. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-08," NBER Working Papers 14612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Janet L. Yellen, 2008. "The financial markets, housing, and the economy," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue apr18.
    5. James Crotty, 2007. "If Financial Market Competition is so Intense, Why are Financial Firm Profits so High? Reflections on the Current ‘Golden Age’ of Finance," Working Papers wp134, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    6. Raghuram G. Rajan, 2005. "Has financial development made the world riskier?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 313-369.
    7. Eugene Amromin & Steven A. Sharpe, 2009. "Expectations of risk and return among household investors: Are their Sharpe ratios countercyclical?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jan.
    8. L. Wray, 2008. "Lessons from the Subprime Meltdown," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(2), pages 40-68.
    9. Caballero, R J. & Krishnamurthy, A., 2008. "Musical chairs: a comment on the credit crisis," Financial Stability Review, Banque de France, issue 11, pages 9-11, February.
    10. William F. Sharpe, 1964. "Capital Asset Prices: A Theory Of Market Equilibrium Under Conditions Of Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 19(3), pages 425-442, September.
    11. Peter Folkman & Julie Froud & Sukhdev Johal & Karel Williams, 2007. "Working for themselves? Capital market intermediaries and present day capitalism," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(4), pages 552-572.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:ums:papers:2008-14. 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: (Daniele Girardi). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/deumaus.html .

    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.