The 2008 Financial Crisis

Ten years after the 2008 financial crisis hit, our Review of the week looks back at the crisis and its causes

Unfinished business : the unexplored causes of the financial crisis and the lessons yet to be learned

Bayoumi, Tamim. Yale, 2017
286p bibl index, 9780300225631 $35.00, 9780300231830

Unfinished business : the unexplored causes of the financial crisis and the lessons yet to be learned book cover

When did the financial crisis of 2008 really begin? Though most critics point to changes in US mortgage underwriting standards prior to the crisis, what led to those standards being lowered then? Bayoumi (International Monetary Fund) writes a detailed history of the monetary system from Bretton Woods to the fall of Lehman Brothers and how they led to the 2008 crisis. His narrative ties together several agreements, from the Delors Committee to the euro and then to Basel 1. He discusses how Basel 2 led to lower bank capital reserve standards and how in 2003 the Federal Reserve allowed investment banks (“shadow banks”) to use mortgage-backed securities for repurchase agreement securities. This greatly expanded the repurchase agreement market (and lowered quality) while creating a housing price bubble at the same time. Bayoumi was an IMF executive prior to the crisis and provides excellent insights into how this led to the crisis, especially in terms of the different economic philosophies competing for influence.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
Reviewer: J. J. Janney, University of Dayton
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Economics
Choice Issue: Apr 2018