Lessons We Should Have Learned from the Global Financial Crisis but Didn’t

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Working Paper No. 681

Lessons We Should Have Learned from the Global Financial Crisis but Didn’t by L. Randall Wray Levy Economics Institute of Bard College August 2011

The Levy Economics Institute Working Paper Collection presents research in progress by Levy Institute scholars and conference participants. The purpose of the series is to disseminate ideas to and elicit comments from academics and professionals. Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, founded in 1986, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, independently funded research organization devoted to public service. Through scholarship and economic research it generates viable, effective public policy responses to important economic problems that profoundly affect the quality of life in the United States and abroad.

Levy Economics Institute P.O. Box 5000 Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000 http://www.levyinstitute.org Copyright © Levy Economics Institute 2011 All rights reserved

Abstract In this paper, I first quickly recount the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis (GFC). Of course, the triggering event was the unfolding of the subprime crisis; however, I argue that the financial system was already so fragile that just about anything could have caused the collapse. I then move on to an assessment of the lessons we should have learned. Briefly, these include: (a) the GFC was not a liquidity crisis, (b) underwriting matters, (c) unregulated and unsupervised financial institutions naturally evolve into control frauds, and (d) the worst part is the cover-up of the crimes. I argue that we cannot resolve the crisis until we begin going after the fraud. Finally, I outline an agenda for reform, along the lines suggested by the work of Hyman P. Minsky.

Keywords: Global Financial Crisis; Subprime Crisis; Hyman P. Minsky; Galbraith and the Great Crash; Control Fraud; Underwriting; Deregulation; Financial Reform

JEL Classifications: E3, E11, E12, E32, E44, G01, G21, G38

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