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The Financial Crisis: Who is to Blame?


There is still no consensus on who or what caused the financial crisis which engulfed the world, beginning in the summer of 2007.

A huge number of suspects have been identified, from greedy investment bankers, through feckless borrowers, dilatory regulators and myopic central bankers to violent video games and high levels of testosterone among the denizens of trading floors. There is not even agreement on whether the crisis shows a need for more government intervention in markets, or less: some maintain that government encouragement of home ownership lay at the heart of the problem in the US, in particular.

In The Financial Crisis Howard Davies charts a course through these arguments, and the evidence advanced for each of them. The reader can thereby assess the weight to be attached to each, and the likely effectiveness of the remedies under development.


A - The Big Picture.

1 Frankenstein's monster: The end of Laissez-faire capitalism.

2 The rich get richer - the poor borrow.

3 The savings glut - global imbalances.

4 Too loose for too long - US monetary policy.

B - The Trigger.

5 Minsky's Moment.

6 The sub-prime collapse - a failure of government?

C - The Failures of Regulation.

7 A capital shortage.

8 Procyclicality.

9 The Canary in the Coal Mine: off-balance sheet vehicles.

10 The taxi at the station: liquidity.

11 The Blind Mind and The Elephant: US Regulation.

12 SEC- RIP?

13 Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction: Derivatives.

14 Federal Mortgage Regulation.

15 Casino banking : the end of the Glass-Steagall Act.

16 Too big to fail.

17 Lighting the Touchpaper: Light touch regulation.

18 There were three people in the marriage: UK regulation.

19 Lack of Coordination.

20 Paradise lost: offshore centres.

D - Accountants, auditors and rating agencies.

21 Shoot the Messenger: fair value accounting.

22 Tunnel Vision: the auditors.

23 Conflicts of interest: credit rating agencies.

E - Financial Firms and Markets.

24 Breaking the chain: originate to distribute.

25 Too complex to trade: derivatives.

26 Disaster Myopia: risk management.

27 The Roach Motel: corporate governance.

28 Blankfein's bonus: pay and incentives.

29 The Vampire Squid.

30 A plague of locusts: hedge funds.

31 Short Selling.

F - Economics and Finance Theory.

32 The death of economics.

33 Inefficient markets.

34 An ethics-free zone: business schools.

G - Wild Cards.

35 The watchdog didn't bark: the media.

36 Greed is bad.

37 Lara Croft: video games.

38 Hormones.

And Finally.

39 A combustible mixture.