Non-Lessons of the Financial Crisis

As the fifth anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy approaches, the Internet is filling up with reflections on the financial crisis and the ensuing years. My main feeling, as expressed in my latest Atlantic column, is amazement at how little we seem to have learned. Looking back, the period in late 2008 and early 2009, when it was obvious […]

Who Cares About the National Debt?

Not Greg Mankiw. Or, to be precise, not “Republicans.” This past weekend Mankiw wrote a column for the Times laying out the arguments for a carbon tax. They are so well known and so obviously correct that I won’t bother repeating them. (A tradable permit system could work equally well, depending on how it is designed.) In addition, […]

Markets Aren’t That Stupid

In finance, there are rarely battles between good and evil. Instead, you have battles of, say, greedy and corrupt versus greedy and ruthless. This is roughly the case in the debate between entrenched corporate CEOs (and boards) and activist hedge funds. Activist hedge fund managers, like Daniel Loeb or Bill Ackman, buy large blocks of […]

Yes, We Should Worry About Public Pensions

In the wake of the Detroit bankruptcy, Paul Krugman has a post pooh-poohing concerns about public pensions. His conclusion: “Nationwide, governments are underfunding their pensions by around 3 percent of $850 billion, or around $25 billion a year. A $25 billion shortfall in a $16 trillion economy. We’re doomed!” (Yes, that’s sarcasm.) I know why Krugman wants […]

The Costs of “Good” Economics

If there is a central argument to 13 Bankers, it is that politics matters. The financial crisis was the result of a long-term transformation of the financial sector and its place in the overall economy, and that transformation occurred because of—and contributed to—a shift in the political balance of power. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, authors […]

Save If Failure Impending

Yesterday the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the too big to fail problem. Ordinarily a hearing includes a couple of witnesses chosen by the majority who say one thing and one or two witnesses chosen by the minority who say exactly the opposite thing. In this, however, it was hard to tell who […]

New Research in Financial Regulation

Not surprisingly, there is a great deal of interesting research being done in the area of financial institutions, systemic risk, and regulatory reform. Last week I had the pleasure of attending a workshop for junior law professors held by theInsurance Law Center of the UConn Law School, where I am a professor. The workshop featured a […]

The Cost of (Equity) Capital

For years, the world’s largest banks have been up in arms over threats by regulators to increase their (equity) capital requirements. Making banks hold more capital, they argue, will force them to reduce lending and will increase their cost of funding, making credit more expensive throughout the economy. One of the chief defenders of the megabanks […]

Can You Say “Bubble”?

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had an article titled “Foosball over Finance” about how people in finance have been switching to technology startups, for all the predictable reasons: The long hours in finance. “Technology is collaborative. In finance, it’s the opposite.” “The prospect of ‘building something new.’” Jeans. Foosball tables. Or, in the most un-self-conscious, over-engineered, revealing turn […]