Banks, States, and Financial Crises

There is a danger that in the push to nationalize banks as a consequence of the current financial crisis, governments will see it as their duty to implement strategies. Indeed, the strategic vision of a bank shaping a country's economic fortunes is as flawed as was the idea of central economic planning.

PRINCETON – The most recent phase of the financial crisis, since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, has been characterized by large bank losses and the continued threat of bank collapses. The size of the calamity raises the question of whether small countries can really afford bank bailouts.

But the definition of “small” keeps changing: a few months ago, small meant Iceland, then it meant Ireland, and now it means the United Kingdom. The aftermath of the banking crisis requires thinking about not only the most appropriate form of banking legislation, but also the appropriate size of the state.

There has always been uncertainty about the best design of a banking system, and there has always been competition between different sorts of banking regulation. On the one hand, there is the idea – which defined banking for much of American history – that banks should be close to the risks that they must judge. This ideal grew out of Andrew Jackson’s titanic struggle with Nicholas Biddle and the Second Bank of the United States. Populism was pitted against the financiers, and populism won. As a result, most nineteenth-century US banks did not have branches, and were limited to one state.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/wTibeyO;
  1. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Angela Merkel’s Endgame?

    The collapse of coalition negotiations has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a stark choice between forming a minority government or calling for a new election. But would a minority government necessarily be as bad as Germans have traditionally thought?

  2. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.

  3. A GrabBike rider uses his mobile phone Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images

    The Platform Economy

    While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy.

  4. Trump Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Profiles in Discouragement

    One day, the United States will turn the page on Donald Trump. But, as Americans prepare to observe their Thanksgiving holiday, they should reflect that their country's culture and global standing will never recover fully from the wounds that his presidency is inflicting on them.

  5. Mugabe kisses Grace JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

    How Women Shape Coups

    In Zimbabwe, as in all coups, much behind-the-scenes plotting continues to take place in the aftermath of the military's overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. But who the eventual winners and losers are may depend, among other things, on the gender of the plotters.

  6. Oil barrels Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty Images

    The Abnormality of Oil

    At the 2017 Abu Dhabi Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the consensus among industry executives was that oil prices will still be around $60 per barrel in November 2018. But there is evidence to suggest that the uptick in global growth and developments in Saudi Arabia will push the price as high as $80 in the meantime.

  7. Israeli soldier Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

    The Saudi Prince’s Dangerous War Games

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working hard to consolidate power and establish his country as the Middle East’s only hegemon. But his efforts – which include an attempt to trigger a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon – increasingly look like the work of an immature gambler.