In 1921 Austria became the first interwar European country to experience hyperinflation. The League of Nations, among other actors, stepped in to help reconstruct the economy, but a decade later Austria’s largest bank, Credit-Anstalt, collapsed. Historians have correlated these events with the banking and currency crisis that destabilized interwar Europe—a narrative that relies on the claim that Austria and the global monetary system were the victims of financial interlopers. In this corrective history, Nathan Marcus deemphasizes the destructive role of external players in Austria’s reconstruction and points to the greater impact of domestic malfeasance and predatory speculation on the nation’s financial and political decline.
Consulting sources ranging from diplomatic dossiers to bank statements and financial analyses, Marcus shows how the League of Nations’ efforts to curb Austrian hyperinflation in 1922 were politically constrained. The League left Austria in 1926 but foreign interests intervened in 1931 to contain the fallout from the Credit-Anstalt collapse. Not until later, when problems in the German and British economies became acute, did Austrians and speculators exploit the country’s currency and compromise its value. Although some statesmen and historians have pinned Austria’s—and the world’s—economic implosion on financial colonialism, Marcus’s research offers a more accurate appraisal of early multilateral financial supervision and intervention.
Illuminating new facets of the interwar political economy, Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance reckons with the true consequences of international involvement in the Austrian economy during a key decade of renewal and crisis.
The Battle over the Charter of the Second Bank of the United States and Its Lasting Impact on the American Economy
Late one night in July 1832,Martin Van Buren rushed to the White House where he found an ailing President Andrew Jackson weakened but resolute. Thundering against his political antagonists, Jackson bellowed: “The Bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I shall kill it!”With those famous words, Jackson formally declared “war” against the Second Bank of the United States and its president Nicholas Biddle. The Bank of the United States, which held the majority of Federal monies, had been established as a means of centralizing and stabilizing American currency and the economy, particularly during the country’s vulnerable early years. Jackson and his allies viewed the bank as both elitist and a threat to states’ rights. Throughout his first term, Jackson had attacked the bank viciously but failed to take action against the institution. Congress’ decision to recharter the bank forced Jackson to either make good on his rhetoric and veto the recharter or sign the recharter bill and be condemned as a hypocrite.
In The Bank War: Andrew Jackson, Nicholas Biddle, and the Fight for American Finance, historian Paul Kahan explores one of the most important and dramatic events in American political and economic history, from the idea of centralized banking and the First Bank of the United States to Jackson’s triumph, the era of “free banking,” and the creation of the Federal Reserve System. Relying on a range of primary and secondary source material, the book also shows how the Bank War was a manifestation of the debates that were sparked at the Constitutional Convention—the role of the executive branch and the role of the federal government in American society—debates that endure to this day as philosophical differences that often divide the United States.
A comprehensive account of the rise and fall of the mortgage-securitization industry, which explains the complex roots of the 2008 financial crisis.
More than a decade after the 2008 financial crisis plunged the world economy into recession, we still lack an adequate explanation for why it happened. Existing accounts identify a number of culprits—financial instruments, traders, regulators, capital flows—yet fail to grasp how the various puzzle pieces came together. The key, Neil Fligstein argues, is the convergence of major US banks on an identical business model: extracting money from the securitization of mortgages. But how, and why, did this convergence come about?
The Banks Did It carefully takes the reader through the development of a banking industry dependent on mortgage securitization. Fligstein documents how banks, with help from the government, created the market for mortgage securities. The largest banks—Countrywide Financial, Bear Stearns, Citibank, and Washington Mutual—soon came to participate in every aspect of this market. Each firm originated mortgages, issued mortgage-backed securities, sold those securities, and, in many cases, acted as their own best customers by purchasing the same securities. Entirely reliant on the throughput of mortgages, these firms were unable to alter course even when it became clear that the market had turned on them in the mid-2000s.
With the structural features of the banking industry in view, the rest of the story falls into place. Fligstein explains how the crisis was produced, where it spread, why regulators missed the warning signs, and how banks’ dependence on mortgage securitization resulted in predatory lending and securities fraud. An illuminating account of the transformation of the American financial system, The Banks Did It offers important lessons for anyone with a stake in avoiding the next crisis.
The World Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) carry out their mission to alleviate poverty and promote economic growth based on the advice of professional economists. But as Sarah Babb argues in Behind the Development Banks, these organizations have also been indelibly shaped by Washington politics—particularly by the legislative branch and its power of the purse.
Tracing American influence on MDBs over three decades, this volume assesses increased congressional activism and the perpetual “selling” of banks to Congress by the executive branch. Babb contends that congressional reluctance to fund the MDBs has enhanced the influence of the United States on them by making credible America’s threat to abandon the banks if its policy preferences are not followed. At a time when the United States’ role in world affairs is being closely scrutinized, Behind the Development Banks will be necessary reading for anyone interested in how American politics helps determine the fate of developing countries.
In this expert insider’s account of the savings and loan debacle of the 1980s, William Black lays bare the strategies that corrupt CEOs and CFOs—in collusion with those who have regulatory oversight of their industries—use to defraud companies for their personal gain. Recounting the investigations he conducted as Director of Litigation for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Black fully reveals how Charles Keating and hundreds of other S&L owners took advantage of a weak regulatory environment to perpetrate accounting fraud on a massive scale. In the new afterword, he also authoritatively links the S&L crash to the business failures of 2008 and beyond, showing how CEOs then and now are using the same tactics to defeat regulatory restraints and commit the same types of destructive fraud.
Black uses the latest advances in criminology and economics to develop a theory of why “control fraud”—looting a company for personal profit—tends to occur in waves that make financial markets deeply inefficient. He also explains how to prevent such waves. Throughout the book, Black drives home the larger point that control fraud is a major, ongoing threat in business that requires active, independent regulators to contain it. His book is a wake-up call for everyone who believes that market forces alone will keep companies and their owners honest.
Taking financial risks is an essential part of what banks do, but there’s no clear sense of what constitutes responsible risk. Taking legal risks seems to have become part of what banks do as well. Since the financial crisis, Congress has passed copious amounts of legislation aimed at curbing banks’ risky behavior. Lawsuits against large banks have cost them billions. Yet bad behavior continues to plague the industry. Why isn’t there more change?
In Better Bankers, Better Banks, Claire A. Hill and Richard W. Painter look back at the history of banking and show how the current culture of bad behavior—dramatized by the corrupt, cocaine-snorting bankers of The Wolf of Wall Street—came to be. In the early 1980s, banks went from partnerships whose partners had personal liability to corporations whose managers had no such liability and could take risks with other people’s money. A major reason bankers remain resistant to change, Hill and Painter argue, is that while banks have been faced with large fines, penalties, and legal fees—which have exceeded one hundred billion dollars since the onset of the crisis—the banks (which really means the banks’shareholders) have paid them, not the bankers themselves. The problem also extends well beyond the pursuit of profit to the issue of how success is defined within the banking industry, where highly paid bankers clamor for status and clients may regard as inevitable bankers who prioritize their own self-interest. While many solutions have been proposed, Hill and Painter show that a successful transformation of banker behavior must begin with the bankers themselves. Bankers must be personally liable from their own assets for some portion of the bank’s losses from excessive risk-taking and illegal behavior. This would instill a culture that discourages such behavior and in turn influence the sorts of behavior society celebrates or condemns.
Despite many sensible proposals seeking to reign in excessive risk-taking, the continuing trajectory of scandals suggests that we’re far from ready to avert the next crisis. Better Bankers, Better Banks is a refreshing call for bankers to return to the idea that theirs is a noble profession.
Recent economic crises have made the centrality of debt, and the instability it creates, increasingly apparent. This realization has led to cries for change—yet there is little popular awareness of possible alternatives.
Beyond Debt describes efforts to create a transnational economy free of debt. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Malaysia, Daromir Rudnyckyj illustrates how the state, led by the central bank, seeks to make the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur “the New York of the Muslim world”—the central node of global financial activity conducted in accordance with Islam. Rudnyckyj shows how Islamic financial experts have undertaken ambitious experiments to create more stable economies and stronger social solidarities by facilitating risk- and profit-sharing, enhanced entrepreneurial skills, and more collaborative economic action. Building on scholarship that reveals the impact of financial devices on human activity, he illustrates how Islamic finance is deployed to fashion subjects who are at once more pious Muslims and more ambitious entrepreneurs. In so doing, Rudnyckyj shows how experts seek to create a new “geoeconomics”—a global Islamic alternative to the conventional financial network centered on New York, London, and Tokyo. A groundbreaking analysis of a timely subject, Beyond Debt tells the captivating story of efforts to re-center international finance in an emergent Islamic global city and, ultimately, to challenge the very foundations of conventional finance.
Since the rise of the small-sum lending industry in the 1890s, people on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder in the United States have been asked to pay the greatest price for credit. Again and again, Americans have asked why the most fragile borrowers face the highest costs for access to the smallest loans. To protect low-wage workers in need of credit, reformers have repeatedly turned to law, only to face the vexing question of where to draw the line between necessary protection and overreaching paternalism.
City of Debtors shows how each generation of Americans has tackled the problem of fringe finance, using law to redefine the meaning of justice within capitalism for those on the economic margins. Anne Fleming tells the story of the small-sum lending industry’s growth and regulation from the ground up, following the people who navigated the market for small loans and those who shaped its development at the state and local level. Fleming’s focus on the city and state of New York, which served as incubators for numerous lending reforms that later spread throughout the nation, differentiates her approach from work that has centered on federal regulation. It also reveals the overlooked challenges of governing a modern financial industry within a federalist framework.
Fleming’s detailed work contributes to the broader and ongoing debate about the meaning of justice within capitalistic societies, by exploring the fault line in the landscape of capitalism where poverty, the welfare state, and consumer credit converge.
“Read this book. It explains so much about the moment…Beautiful, heartbreaking work.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates
“A deep accounting of how America got to a point where a median white family has 13 times more wealth than the median black family.” —The Atlantic
“Extraordinary…Baradaran focuses on a part of the American story that’s often ignored: the way African Americans were locked out of the financial engines that create wealth in America.” —Ezra Klein
When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, the black community owned less than 1 percent of the total wealth in America. More than 150 years later, that number has barely budged. The Color of Money seeks to explain the stubborn persistence of this racial wealth gap by focusing on the generators of wealth in the black community: black banks.
With the civil rights movement in full swing, President Nixon promoted “black capitalism,” a plan to support black banks and minority-owned businesses. But the catch-22 of black banking is that the very institutions needed to help communities escape the deep poverty caused by discrimination and segregation inevitably became victims of that same poverty. In this timely and eye-opening account, Baradaran challenges the long-standing belief that black communities could ever really hope to accumulate wealth in a segregated economy.
“Black capitalism has not improved the economic lives of black people, and Baradaran deftly explains the reasons why.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“A must read for anyone interested in closing America’s racial wealth gap.” —Black Perspectives
"Rosas's compelling theory and wide-ranging empirical evidence yield a persuasive but surprising conclusion in light of the financial meltdown of 2008–9. In the event of banking crises, not only do elected governments treat taxpayers better and force bankers and their creditors to pay more for their mistakes, but bankers in democracies are more prudent as a consequence . . . essential reading for all interested in the political economy of crisis and in the future of banking regulation."
---Philip Keefer, Lead Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank
"Rosas convincingly demonstrates how democratic accountability affects the incidence and resolution of banking crises. Combining formal models, case studies, and cutting-edge quantitative methods, Rosas's book represents a model for political economy research."
---William Bernhard, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois
"When the financial crises of the 1990s hit Asia, Russia, and Latin America, the U.S. scolded them about the moral hazard problems of bailing out the banks. Now, the shoe is on the other foot, with the U.S. struggling to manage an imploding financial sector. Rosas's study of bank bailouts could not be more timely, providing us with both a framework for thinking about the issue and some sobering history of how things go both right and badly wrong. Democratic accountability proves the crucial factor in making sure bailouts are fair, a point that is as relevant for U.S. policy as for an understanding of the emerging markets."
---Stephan Haggard, Krause Professor, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego
Banking crises threaten the stability and growth of economies around the world. In response, politicians restore banks to solvency by redistributing losses from bank shareholders and depositors to taxpayers, and the burden the citizenry must bear varies from case to case. Whereas some governments stay close to the prescriptions espoused by Sir Walter Bagehot in the nineteenth century that limit the costs shouldered by taxpayers, others engage in generous bank bailouts at great cost to society. What factors determine a government's response?
In this comparative analysis of late-twentieth-century banking crises, Guillermo Rosas identifies political regime type as the determining factor. During a crisis, powerful financial players demand protection of their assets. Rosas maintains that in authoritarian regimes, government officials have little to shield them from such demands and little incentive for rebuffing them, while in democratic regimes, elected officials must weigh these demands against the interests of the voters---that is, the taxpayers. As a result, compared with authoritarian regimes, democratic regimes show a lower propensity toward dramatic, costly bailouts.
Guillermo Rosas is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Fellow at the Center in Political Economy at Washington University in St. Louis.
John G. Cragg and Burton G. Malkiel collected detailed forecasts of professional investors concerning the growth of 175 companies and use this information to examine the impact of such forecasts on the market evaluations of the companies and to test and extend traditional models of how stock market values are determined.
Few scholars have been as influential in finance and economics as University of Chicago professor Eugene F. Fama. Over the course of a brilliant and productive career, Fama has published more than one hundred papers, filled with diverse, highly innovative contributions.
Published soon after the fiftieth anniversary of Fama’s appointment to the University of Chicago and his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Economics, The Fama Portfolio offers an authoritative compilation of Fama’s central papers. Many are classics, including his now-famous essay on efficient capital markets. Others, though less famous, are even better statements of the central ideas. Fama’s research considers key questions in finance, both as an academic field and an industry: How is information reflected in asset prices? What is the nature of risk that scares people away from larger returns? Does lots of buying and selling by active managers produce value for their clients? The Fama Portfolio provides for the first time a comprehensive collection of his work and includes introductions and commentary by the book’s editors, John H. Cochrane and Tobias Moskowitz, as well as by Fama’s colleagues, themselves top scholars and successful practitioners in finance. These essays emphasize how the ideas presented in Fama’s papers have influenced later thinking in financial economics, often for decades.
An illuminating history of the Fed from its founding through the tumult of 2020.
In The Federal Reserve: A New History, Robert L. Hetzel draws on more than forty years of experience as an economist in the central bank to trace the influences of the Fed on the American economy. Comparing periods in which the Fed stabilized the economy to those when it did the opposite, Hetzel tells the story of a century-long pursuit of monetary rules capable of providing for economic stability.
Recast through this lens and enriched with archival materials, Hetzel’s sweeping history offers a new understanding of the bank’s watershed moments since 1913. This includes critical accounts of the Great Depression, the Great Inflation, and the Great Recession—including how these disastrous events could have been avoided.
A critical volume for a critical moment in financial history, The Federal Reserve is an expert, sweeping account that promises to recast our understanding of the central bank in its second century.
If you’ve got money in the bank, chances are you’ve never seriously worried about not being able to withdraw it. But there was a time in the United States, an era that ended just over a hundred years ago, when bank customers had to pay close attention to the solvency of the banking system, knowing they might have to rush to retrieve their savings before the bank collapsed. During the National Banking Era (1863–1913), before the establishment of the Federal Reserve, widespread banking panics were indeed rather common.
Yet these pre-Fed banking panics, as Gary B. Gorton and Ellis W. Tallman show, bear striking similarities to our recent financial crisis. Fighting Financial Crises thus turns to the past to better understand our uncertain present, investigating how panics during the National Banking Era played out and how they were eventually quelled and prevented. The authors then consider the Fed’s and the SEC’s reactions to the recent crisis, building an informative new perspective on how the modern economy works.
The increased mobility and volume of international capital flows is a striking trend in international finance. While countries worldwide have engaged in financial deregulation, nowhere is this pattern more pronounced than in East Asia, where it has affected in unanticipated ways the behavior of exchange rates, interest rates, and capital flows.
In these thirteen essays, American and Asian scholars analyze the effects of financial deregulation and integration on East Asian markets. Topics covered include the roles of the United States and Japan in trading with Asian countries, macroeconomic policy implications of export-led growth in Korea and Taiwan, the effects of foreign direct investment in China, and the impact of financial liberalization in Japan, Korea, and Singapore.
Demonstrating the complexity of financial deregulation and the challenges it poses for policy makers, this volume provides an excellent picture of the overall status of East Asian financial markets for scholars in international finance and Asian economic development.
The recent recession has brought fiscal policy back to the forefront, with economists and policy makers struggling to reach a consensus on highly political issues like tax rates and government spending. At the heart of the debate are fiscal multipliers, whose size and sensitivity determine the power of such policies to influence economic growth.
Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis focuses on the effects of fiscal stimuli and increased government spending, with contributions that consider the measurement of the multiplier effect and its size. In the face of uncertainty over the sustainability of recent economic policies, further contributions to this volume discuss the merits of alternate means of debt reduction through decreased government spending or increased taxes. A final section examines how the short-term political forces driving fiscal policy might be balanced with aspects of the long-term planning governing monetary policy.
A direct intervention in timely debates, Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis offers invaluable insights about various responses to the recent financial crisis.
An Economist Best Book of the Year A Financial Times Best Book of the Year A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year A ProMarket Best Political Economy Book of the Year One of The Week’s Ten Best Business Books of the Year
A cutting-edge look at how accelerating financial change, from the end of cash to the rise of cryptocurrencies, will transform economies for better and worse.
We think we’ve seen financial innovation. We bank from laptops and buy coffee with the wave of a phone. But these are minor miracles compared with the dizzying experiments now underway around the globe, as businesses and governments alike embrace the possibilities of new financial technologies. As Eswar Prasad explains, the world of finance is at the threshold of major disruption that will affect corporations, bankers, states, and indeed all of us. The transformation of money will fundamentally rewrite how ordinary people live.
Above all, Prasad foresees the end of physical cash. The driving force won’t be phones or credit cards but rather central banks, spurred by the emergence of cryptocurrencies to develop their own, more stable digital currencies. Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies themselves will evolve unpredictably as global corporations like Facebook and Amazon join the game. The changes will be accompanied by snowballing innovations that are reshaping finance and have already begun to revolutionize how we invest, trade, insure, and manage risk.
Prasad shows how these and other changes will redefine the very concept of money, unbundling its traditional functions as a unit of account, medium of exchange, and store of value. The promise lies in greater efficiency and flexibility, increased sensitivity to the needs of diverse consumers, and improved market access for the unbanked. The risk is instability, lack of accountability, and erosion of privacy. A lucid, visionary work, The Future of Money shows how to maximize the best and guard against the worst of what is to come.
No area has become more global in its operations, more volatile, and thus more difficult to monitor and control than international banking. In this book, the international banker and political economist Ethan Kapstein explores the actions that governments have taken to cope with the economic and political consequences associated with the globalization of international finance.
Allan H. Meltzer's monumental history of the Federal Reserve System tells the story of one of America's most influential but least understood public institutions. This first volume covers the period from the Federal Reserve's founding in 1913 through the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of 1951, which marked the beginning of a larger and greatly changed institution.
To understand why the Federal Reserve acted as it did at key points in its history, Meltzer draws on meeting minutes, correspondence, and other internal documents (many made public only during the 1970s) to trace the reasoning behind its policy decisions. He explains, for instance, why the Federal Reserve remained passive throughout most of the economic decline that led to the Great Depression, and how the Board's actions helped to produce the deep recession of 1937 and 1938. He also highlights the impact on the institution of individuals such as Benjamin Strong, governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the 1920s, who played a key role in the adoption of a more active monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Meltzer also examines the influence the Federal Reserve has had on international affairs, from attempts to build a new international financial system in the 1920s to the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 that established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the failure of the London Economic Conference of 1933.
Written by one of the world's leading economists, this magisterial biography of the Federal Reserve and the people who helped shape it will interest economists, central bankers, historians, political scientists, policymakers, and anyone seeking a deep understanding of the institution that controls America's purse strings.
"It was 'an unprecedented orgy of extravagance, a mania for speculation, overextended business in nearly all lines and in every section of the country.' An Alan Greenspan rumination about the irrational exuberance of the late 1990s? Try the 1920 annual report of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve. . . . To understand why the Fed acted as it did—at these critical moments and many others—would require years of study, poring over letters, the minutes of meetings and internal Fed documents. Such a task would naturally deter most scholars of economic history but not, thank goodness, Allan Meltzer."—Wall Street Journal
"A seminal work that anyone interested in the inner workings of the U. S. central bank should read. A work that scholars will mine for years to come."—John M. Berry, Washington Post
"An exceptionally clear story about why, as the ideas that actually informed policy evolved, things sometimes went well and sometimes went badly. . . . One can only hope that we do not have to wait too long for the second installment."—David Laidler, Journal of Economic Literature
"A thorough narrative history of a high order. Meltzer's analysis is persuasive and acute. His work will stand for a generation as the benchmark history of the world's most powerful economic institution. It is an impressive, even awe-inspiring achievement."—Sir Howard Davies, Times Higher Education Supplement
The United States has two separate banking systems today—one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa Baradaran examines how a significant portion of the population, deserted by banks, is forced to wander through a Wild West of payday lenders and check-cashing services to cover emergency expenses and pay for necessities—all thanks to deregulation that began in the 1970s and continues decades later.
“Baradaran argues persuasively that the banking industry, fattened on public subsidies (including too-big-to-fail bailouts), owes low-income families a better deal…How the Other Half Banks is well researched and clearly written…The bankers who fully understand the system are heavily invested in it. Books like this are written for the rest of us.” —Nancy Folbre, New York Times Book Review
“How the Other Half Banks tells an important story, one in which we have allowed the profit motives of banks to trump the public interest.” —Lisa J. Servon, American Prospect
A distinguished Yale economist and legal scholar’s argument that law, of all things, has the potential to rescue us from the next economic crisis.
After the economic crisis of 2008, private-sector spending took nearly a decade to recover. Yair Listokin thinks we can respond more quickly to the next meltdown by reviving and refashioning a policy approach whose proven success is too rarely acknowledged. Harking back to New Deal regulatory agencies, Listokin proposes that we take seriously law’s ability to function as a macroeconomic tool, capable of stimulating demand when needed and relieving demand when it threatens to overheat economies.
Listokin makes his case by looking at both positive and cautionary examples, going back to the New Deal and including the Keystone Pipeline, the constitutionally fraught bond-buying program unveiled by the European Central Bank at the nadir of the Eurozone crisis, the ongoing Greek crisis, and the experience of U.S. price controls in the 1970s. History has taught us that law is an unwieldy instrument of macroeconomic policy, but Listokin argues that under certain conditions it offers a vital alternative to the monetary and fiscal policy tools that stretch the legitimacy of technocratic central banks near their breaking point while leaving the rest of us waiting and wallowing.
From 1716 to 1845, Scotland’s banks were among the most dynamic and resilient in Europe, effectively absorbing a series of adverse economic shocks that rocked financial markets in London and on the continent. Legislating Instability explains the seeming paradox that the Scottish banking system achieved this success without the government controls usually considered necessary for economic stability.
Eighteenth-century Scottish banks operated in a regulatory vacuum: no central bank to act as lender of last resort, no monopoly on issuing currency, no legal requirements for maintaining capital reserves, and no formal limits on bank size. These conditions produced a remarkably robust banking system, one that was intensely competitive and served as a prime engine of Scottish economic growth. Despite indicators that might have seemed red flags—large speculative capital flows, a fixed exchange rate, and substantial external debt—Scotland successfully navigated two severe financial crises during the Seven Years’ War.
The exception was a severe financial crisis in 1772, seven years after the imposition of the first regulations on Scottish banking—the result of aggressive lobbying by large banks seeking to weed out competition. While these restrictions did not cause the 1772 crisis, Tyler Beck Goodspeed argues, they critically undermined the flexibility and resilience previously exhibited by Scottish finance, thereby elevating the risk that another adverse economic shock, such as occurred in 1772, might threaten financial stability more broadly. Far from revealing the shortcomings of unregulated banking, as Adam Smith claimed, the 1772 crisis exposed the risks of ill-conceived bank regulation.
Established by Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright in North Carolina in 1980, the nonprofit Center for Community Self-Help has grown from an innovative financial institution dedicated to civil rights into the nation's largest home lender to low- and moderate-income borrowers. Self-Help's first capital campaign—a bake sale that raised a meager seventy-seven dollars for a credit union—may not have done much to fulfill the organization's early goals of promoting worker-owned businesses, but it was a crucial first step toward wielding inclusive lending as a weapon for economic justice. In Lending Power journalist and historian Howard E. Covington Jr. narrates the compelling story of Self-Help's founders and coworkers as they built a progressive and community-oriented financial institution. First established to assist workers displaced by closed furniture and textile mills, Self-Help created a credit union that expanded into providing home loans for those on the margins of the financial market, especially people of color and single mothers. Using its own lending record, Self-Help convinced commercial banks to follow suit, extending its influence well beyond North Carolina. In 1999 its efforts led to the first state law against predatory lending. A decade later, as the Great Recession ravaged the nation's economy, its legislative victories helped influence the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Self-Help also created a federally chartered credit union to expand to California and later to Illinois and Florida, where it assisted ailing community-based credit unions and financial institutions. Throughout its history, Self-Help has never wavered from its mission to use Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of justice to extend economic opportunity to the nation's unbanked and underserved citizens. With nearly two billion dollars in assets, Self-Help also shows that such a model for nonprofits can be financially successful while serving the greater good. At a time when calls for economic justice are growing ever louder, Lending Power shows how hard-working and dedicated people can help improve their communities.
This account of the financial crisis of 2008–2009 compares banking systems in the United States and the United Kingdom to those of Canada and Australia and explains why the system imploded in the former but not the latter. Central to this analysis are differences in bankers’ beliefs and incentives in different banking markets.
A boom mentality and fear of being left behind by competitors drove many U.S. and British bank executives to take extraordinary risks in creating new financial products. Intense market competition, poorly understood trading instruments, and escalating system complexity both drove and misled bankers. Formerly illiquid assets such as mortgages and other forms of debt were repackaged into complex securities, including collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). These were then traded on an industrial scale, and in 2007 and 2008, when their value collapsed, economic activity fell into a deep freeze. The financial crisis threatened not just investment banks and their insurers but also individual homeowners and workers at every level. In contrast, because banks in Canada and Australia could make good profits through traditional lending practices, they did not confront the same pressures to reinvent themselves as did banks in the United States and the United Kingdom, thus allowing them to avoid the fate of their overseas counterparts.
Stephen Bell and Andrew Hindmoor argue that trading and systemic risk in the banking system need to be reined in. However, prospects for this are not promising given the commitment of governments in the crisis-hit economies to protect the “international competitiveness” of the London and New York financial markets.
Banks and bankers are hardly the most beloved institutions and people in this country. With its corruptive influence on politics and stranglehold on the American economy, Wall Street is held in high regard by few outside the financial sector. But the pitchforks raised against this behemoth are largely rhetorical: we rarely see riots in the streets or public demands for an equitable and democratic banking system that result in serious national changes.
Yet the situation was vastly different a century ago, as Christopher W. Shaw shows. This book upends the conventional thinking that financial policy in the early twentieth century was set primarily by the needs and demands of bankers. Shaw shows that banking and politics were directly shaped by the literal and symbolic investments of the grassroots. This engagement remade financial institutions and the national economy, through populist pressure and the establishment of federal regulatory programs and agencies like the Farm Credit System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Shaw reveals the surprising groundswell behind seemingly arcane legislation, as well as the power of the people to demand serious political repercussions for the banks that caused the Great Depression. One result of this sustained interest and pressure was legislation and regulation that brought on a long period of relative financial stability, with a reduced frequency of economic booms and busts. Ironically, this stability led to the decline of the very banking politics that brought it about.
Giving voice to a broad swath of American figures, including workers, farmers, politicians, and bankers alike, Money, Power, and the People recasts our understanding of what might be possible in balancing the needs of the people with those of their financial institutions.
Years have passed since the world experienced one of the worst financial crises in history, and while countless experts have analyzed it, many central questions remain unanswered. Should money creation be considered a ‘public’ or ‘private’ activity—or both? What do we mean by, and want from, financial stability? What role should regulation play? How would we design our monetary institutions if we could start from scratch?
In The Money Problem, Morgan Ricks addresses all of these questions and more, offering a practical yet elegant blueprint for a modernized system of money and banking—one that, crucially, can be accomplished through incremental changes to the United States’ current system. He brings a critical, missing dimension to the ongoing debates over financial stability policy, arguing that the issue is primarily one of monetary system design. The Money Problem offers a way to mitigate the risk of catastrophic panic in the future, and it will expand the financial reform conversation in the United States and abroad.
Panic in Paradise is a comprehensive study of bank loan failures during the Florida land boom of the mid-1920s, during the years preceding the stock market crash of 1929. Florida and Georgia experienced a banking panic in 1926 when, in a ten-day period in July, after uncontrollable depositor runs, 117 banks closed in the two states. Uninsured depositors lost millions, and several suicides followed the financial havoc. This volume makes use of banking records that were legally sealed for almost 70 years and provides a shocking story of professional corruption and conspiracy.
"An extraordinary and unusual book that makes an important contribution to our understanding of banking history and the general economic history oof the 1920s. The banking collapse in the Southeast is virtually unknown, even to specialists in banking and financial history. No one who is interested in the banking history of the United States will want to miss this book." -- Eugene N. White, Rutgers University
"An exhaustively researched pioneering study; brilliant investigative reporting." -- Jack Blicksilver, Georgia State University
Since the late 1950s the world's banks have expanded their global operations, with US institutions leading the way. As the recent global economic crisis shows, actions of private bankers can threaten capital markets, weaken national regulatory systems, and strain international cooperation-seriously endangering the world economy and the interests of nation states.
Any student, academic or practitioner wanting to succeed in development studies, radical or mainstream, must understand the World Bank's role and the evolution of its thinking and activities. The Political Economy of Development provides tools for gaining this understanding and applies them across a range of topics.
The research, practice and scholarship of development are always set against the backdrop of the World Bank, whose formidable presence shapes both development practice and thinking. This book brings together academics that specialise in different subject areas of development and reviews their findings in the context of the World Bank as knowledge bank, policy-maker and financial institution. The volume offers a compelling contribution to our understanding of development studies and of development itself.
The Political Economy of Development is an invaluable critical resource for students, policy-makers and activists in development studies.
Mintz and Schwartz offer a fascinating tour of the corporate world. Through an intensive study of interlocking corporate directorates, they show that for the first time in American history the loan making and stock purchasing and selling powers are concentrated in the same hands: the leadership of major financial firms. Their detailed descriptions of corporate case histories include the forced ouster of Howard Hughes from TWA in the late fifties as a result of lenders' pressure; the collapse of Chrysler in the late seventies owing to banks' refusal to provide further capital infusions; and the very different "rescues" of Pan American Airlines and Braniff Airlines by bank intervention in the seventies.
Since banking systems play a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of the economy, the adverse effects of poorly supervised systems may be quite severe. Without some form of vigilant external oversight, banking systems could fall prey to excessive risk taking, moral hazard, and corruption. Prudential supervision provides that oversight, using government regulation and monitoring to ensure the soundness of the banking system and, by extension, the economy at large.
The contributors to this thoughtful volume examine the current state of prudential supervision, focusing on fundamental issues and key pragmatic concerns. Why is prudential supervision so important? What kinds of excess must it guard against? What particular forms does it take? Which of these are the most effective deterrents against mismanagement and system overload in today's rapidly shifting financial climate? The contributors foresee a continued movement beyond simple regulatory rules in banking and toward a more active evaluation and supervision of a bank's risk management practices.
The Bank of the United States sparked several rounds of intense debate over the meaning of the Constitution’s Necessary and Proper Clause, which authorizes the federal government to make laws that are “necessary” for exercising its other powers. Our standard account of the national bank controversy, however, is incomplete. The controversy was much more dynamic than a two-sided debate over a single constitutional provision and was shaped as much by politics as by law.
With Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy, Eric Lomazoff offers a far more robust account of the constitutional politics of national banking between 1791 and 1832. During that time, three forces—changes within the Bank itself, growing tension over federal power within the Republican coalition, and the endurance of monetary turmoil beyond the War of 1812 —drove the development of our first major debate over the scope of federal power at least as much as the formal dimensions of the Constitution or the absence of a shared legal definition for the word “necessary.” These three forces—sometimes alone, sometimes in combination—repeatedly reshaped the terms on which the Bank’s constitutionality was contested. Lomazoff documents how these three dimensions of the polity changed over time and traces the manner in which they periodically led federal officials to adjust their claims about the Bank’s constitutionality. This includes the emergence of the Coinage Clause—which gives Congress power to “coin money, regulate the value thereof”—as a novel justification for the institution. He concludes the book by explaining why a more robust account of the national bank controversy can help us understand the constitutional basis for modern American monetary politics.
Debt was an inescapable fact of life in early America. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, its sinfulness was preached by ministers and the right to imprison debtors was unquestioned. By 1800, imprisonment for debt was under attack and insolvency was no longer seen as a moral failure, merely an economic setback. In Republic of Debtors, Bruce H. Mann illuminates this crucial transformation in early American society.From the wealthy merchant to the backwoods farmer, Mann tells the personal stories of men and women struggling to repay their debts and stay ahead of their creditors. He opens a window onto a society undergoing such fundamental changes as the growth of a commercial economy, the emergence of a consumer marketplace, and a revolution for independence. In addressing debt Americans debated complicated questions of commerce and agriculture, nationalism and federalism, dependence and independence, slavery and freedom. And when numerous prominent men—including the richest man in America and a justice of the Supreme Court—found themselves imprisoned for debt or forced to become fugitives from creditors, their fate altered the political dimensions of debtor relief, leading to the highly controversial Bankruptcy Act of 1800.Whether a society forgives its debtors is not just a question of law or economics; it goes to the heart of what a society values. In chronicling attitudes toward debt and bankruptcy in early America, Mann explores the very character of American society.
A bold history of the rise of central banks, showing how institutions designed to steady the ship of global finance have instead become as destabilizing as they are dominant.
While central banks have gained remarkable influence over the past fifty years, promising more stability, global finance has gone from crisis to crisis. How do we explain this development? Drawing on original sources ignored in previous research, The Rise of Central Banks offers a groundbreaking account of the origins and consequences of central banks’ increasing clout over economic policy.
Many commentators argue that ideas drove change, indicating a shift in the 1970s from Keynesianism to monetarism, concerned with controlling inflation. Others point to the stagflation crises, which put capitalists and workers at loggerheads. Capitalists won, the story goes, then pushed deregulation and disinflation by redistributing power from elected governments to markets and central banks. Both approaches are helpful, but they share a weakness. Abstracting from the evolving practices of central banking, they provide inaccurate accounts of recent policy changes and fail to explain how we arrived at the current era of easy money and excessive finance.
By comparing developments in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland, Leon Wansleben finds that central bankers’ own policy innovations were an important ingredient of change. These innovations allowed central bankers to use privileged relationships with expanding financial markets to govern the economy. But by relying on markets, central banks fostered excessive credit growth and cultivated an unsustainable version of capitalism. Through extensive archival work and numerous interviews, Wansleben sheds new light on the agency of bureaucrats and calls upon society and elected leaders to direct these actors’ efforts to more progressive goals.
With $4.5 trillion in total assets, the People’s Bank of China now surpasses the U.S. Federal Reserve as the world’s biggest central bank. The Rise of the People’s Bank of China investigates how this increasingly authoritative institution grew from a Leninist party-state that once jealously guarded control of banking and macroeconomic policy. Relying on interviews with key players, this book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the evolution of the central banking and monetary policy system in reform China.
Stephen Bell and Hui Feng trace the bank’s ascent to Beijing’s policy circle, and explore the political and institutional dynamics behind its rise. In the early 1990s, the PBC—benefitting from political patronage and perceptions of its unique professional competency—found itself positioned to help steer the Chinese economy toward a more liberal, market-oriented system. Over the following decades, the PBC has assumed a prominent role in policy deliberations and financial reforms, such as fighting inflation, relaxing China’s exchange rate regime, managing reserves, reforming banking, and internationalizing the renminbi. Today, the People’s Bank of China confronts significant challenges in controlling inflation on the back of runaway growth, but it has established a strong track record in setting policy for both domestic reform and integration into the global economy.
This is the story of how a small island on the edge of Europe became one of the world’s major tax havens. From global corporations such as Apple and Google, to investment bankers and mainstream politicians, those taking advantage of Ireland’s pro-business tax laws and shadow banking system have amassed untold riches at enormous social cost to ordinary people at home and abroad.
Tax Haven Ireland uncovers the central players in this process and exposes the coverups employed by the Irish state, with the help of accountants, lawyers, and financial services companies. From the lucrative internet porn industry to corruption in the property market, this issue distorts the economy across the state and in the wider international system, and its history runs deep, going back the country’s origins as a British colonial outpost.
Today, in the wake of Brexit and in the shadow of yet another economic crash, what can be done to prevent such dangerous behaviour and reorganize our economies to invest in the people? Can Ireland – and all of us – build an alternative economy based on fairness and democratic values?