The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It - Updated Edition

Princeton University Press
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The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. The Bankers' New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid. Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig argue that we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of its benefits, and at essentially no cost to society. They seek to engage the broader public in the debate by cutting through the jargon of banking, clearing the fog of confusion, and presenting the issues in simple and accessible terms.
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About the author

Anat Admati is the George G. C. Parker Professor of Finance and Economics at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. She serves on the FDIC Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee and has contributed to the Financial Times, Bloomberg News, and the New York Times. Martin Hellwig is director at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods. He was the first chair of the Advisory Scientific Committee of the European Systemic Risk Board and the cowinner of the 2012 Max Planck Research Award for his work on financial regulation.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 23, 2014
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Pages
424
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ISBN
9781400851195
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Banks & Banking
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / Economics / Theory
Political Science / General
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Over the past decade European economic integration has seen considerable institutional success, but the economic performance of the EU has been varied. While macroeconomic stability has improved and an emphasis on cohesion preserved, the EU economic system has not delivered satisfactory growth performance. This book is the report of a high-level group commissioned by the President of the European Commission to review the EU economic system and propose a blueprint for an economic system capable of delivering faster growth along with stability and cohesion. It assesses the EU s economic performance, examines the challenges facing the EU in the coming years, and presents a series of recommendations. The report views Europe's unsatisfactory growth performance during the last decades as a symptom of its failure to transform into an innovation-based economy. It has now become clear that the context in which economic policies have been developed has changed fundamentally over the past thirty years. A system built around the assimilation of existing technologies, mass production generating economics of scale, and an industrial structure dominated by large firms with stable markets and long term employment patterns no longer delivers in the world of today, characterized by economic globalization and strong external competition. What is needed now is more opportunity for new entrants, greater mobility of employees within and across firms, more retraining, greater reliance on market financing, and higher investment in both R&D and higher education. This requires a massive and urgent change in economic policies in Europe.
“When Sheila Bair took over as head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2006, the agency was probably better known for the ‘FDIC’ logo on the doors of the nation’s banks than for anything it did. Now Bair is at the center of the financial crisis, speeding the takeover of failing banks and pressing the mortgage industry to ease loan terms . . . winning praise from Democrats and Republicans.” —BLOOMBERG NEWS, October 3, 2008

Sheila Bair is widely acknowledged in government circles and the media as one of the first people to identify and accurately assess the subprime crisis. Appointed by George W. Bush as the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 2006, she witnessed the origins of the financial crisis and in 2008 became—along with Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Timothy Geithner—one of the key players trying to repair the damage to our economy. Bull by the Horns is her remarkable and refreshingly honest account of that contentious time and the struggle for reform that followed and continues to this day.

A level-headed, pragmatic figure with a clear focus on serving the public good, Bair was often one of the few women in the room during heated discussions about the economy. Despite her years of experience and her determination to rein in the private banks and Wall Street, she frequently found herself at odds with Geithner. She is withering in her assessment of some of Wall Street’s finest, and her narrative of Citibank’s attempted takeover of Wachovia is a stinging indictment of how regulators and the banks worked against the public interest at times to serve their own needs.

Bair is steadfast in her belief that the American public needs to fully understand the crisis in order to bring it to an end. Critical of the bank bailouts and the Can. $29.99 lax regulation that led to the economic crash, she provides a sober analysis as well as a practical plan for how we should move forward. She helps clear away the myths and half-truths about how we ran our economic engine into the ditch and tells us how we can help get our financial and regulatory systems back on track.

As The New Yorker said, “Bair has consistently stood out for her skepticism of Wall Street and for her eagerness to confront the big banks. A Kansas Republican, she has become an unlikely hero to economic liberals, who see her as the counterweight to the more Wall Street–centric view often ascribed to Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary” (July 6, 2009).
"Hell is empty, and
all the devils are here."
-Shakespeare, The Tempest

As soon as the financial crisis erupted, the finger-pointing began. Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, misguided regulators, sleazy subprime companies, cowardly legislators, or clueless home buyers?

According to Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, two of America's most acclaimed business journalists, the real answer is all of the above-and more. Many devils helped bring hell to the economy. And the full story, in all of its complexity and detail, is like the legend of the blind men and the elephant. Almost everyone has missed the big picture. Almost no one has put all the pieces together.

All the Devils Are Here goes back several decades to weave the hidden history of the financial crisis in a way no previous book has done. It explores the motivations of everyone from famous CEOs, cabinet secretaries, and politicians to anonymous lenders, borrowers, analysts, and Wall Street traders. It delves into the powerful American mythology of homeownership. And it proves that the crisis ultimately wasn't about finance at all; it was about human nature.

Among the devils you'll meet in vivid detail:

• Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, who dreamed of spreading homeownership to the masses, only to succumb to the peer pressure-and the outsized profits-of the sleaziest subprime lending.

• Roland Arnall, a respected philanthropist and diplomat, who made his fortune building Ameriquest, a subprime lending empire that relied on blatantly deceptive lending practices.

• Hank Greenberg, who built AIG into a Rube Goldberg contraption with an undeserved triple-A rating, and who ran it so tightly that he was the only one who knew where all the bodies were buried.

• Stan O'Neal of Merrill Lynch, aloof and suspicious, who suffered from "Goldman envy" and drove a proud old firm into the ground by promoting cronies and pushing out his smartest lieutenants.

• Lloyd Blankfein, who helped turn Goldman Sachs from a culture that famously put clients first to one that made clients secondary to its own bottom line.

• Franklin Raines of Fannie Mae, who (like his predecessors) bullied regulators into submission and let his firm drift away from its original, noble mission.

• Brian Clarkson of Moody's, who aggressively pushed to increase his rating agency's market share and stock price, at the cost of its integrity.

• Alan Greenspan, the legendary maestro of the Federal Reserve, who ignored the evidence of a growing housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the lending practices that ultimately brought down Wall Street-and inflicted enormous pain on the country.

Just as McLean's The Smartest Guys in the Room was hailed as the best Enron book on a crowded shelf, so will All the Devils Are Here be remembered for finally making sense of the meltdown and its consequences.

The subprime mortgage crisis has already wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of people and now it threatens to derail the U.S. economy and economies around the world. In this trenchant book, best-selling economist Robert Shiller reveals the origins of this crisis and puts forward bold measures to solve it. He calls for an aggressive response--a restructuring of the institutional foundations of the financial system that will not only allow people once again to buy and sell homes with confidence, but will create the conditions for greater prosperity in America and throughout the deeply interconnected world economy.

Shiller blames the subprime crisis on the irrational exuberance that drove the economy's two most recent bubbles--in stocks in the 1990s and in housing between 2000 and 2007. He shows how these bubbles led to the dangerous overextension of credit now resulting in foreclosures, bankruptcies, and write-offs, as well as a global credit crunch. To restore confidence in the markets, Shiller argues, bailouts are needed in the short run. But he insists that these bailouts must be targeted at low-income victims of subprime deals. In the longer term, the subprime solution will require leaders to revamp the financial framework by deploying an ambitious package of initiatives to inhibit the formation of bubbles and limit risks, including better financial information; simplified legal contracts and regulations; expanded markets for managing risks; home equity insurance policies; income-linked home loans; and new measures to protect consumers against hidden inflationary effects.

This powerful book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how we got into the subprime mess--and how we can get out.

Over the past decade European economic integration has seen considerable institutional success, but the economic performance of the EU has been varied. While macroeconomic stability has improved and an emphasis on cohesion preserved, the EU economic system has not delivered satisfactory growth performance. This book is the report of a high-level group commissioned by the President of the European Commission to review the EU economic system and propose a blueprint for an economic system capable of delivering faster growth along with stability and cohesion. It assesses the EU s economic performance, examines the challenges facing the EU in the coming years, and presents a series of recommendations. The report views Europe's unsatisfactory growth performance during the last decades as a symptom of its failure to transform into an innovation-based economy. It has now become clear that the context in which economic policies have been developed has changed fundamentally over the past thirty years. A system built around the assimilation of existing technologies, mass production generating economics of scale, and an industrial structure dominated by large firms with stable markets and long term employment patterns no longer delivers in the world of today, characterized by economic globalization and strong external competition. What is needed now is more opportunity for new entrants, greater mobility of employees within and across firms, more retraining, greater reliance on market financing, and higher investment in both R&D and higher education. This requires a massive and urgent change in economic policies in Europe.
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