Street signs in London

De politieke gevolgen van financiële crises

LONDEN – Ik zal wel niet de enige hoogleraar Financiën zijn die, bij het vaststellen van essay-onderwerpen voor studenten, zijn of haar toevlucht heeft genomen tot de volgende vraag: “Was de mondiale financiële crisis naar jouw mening vooral het gevolg van te veel of juist van te weinig overheidsingrijpen op de financiële markten?” Geconfronteerd met deze vraag antwoordde mijn jongste lichting studenten op drie manieren.

Grofweg een derde, verblind door de bedrieglijke lokroep van de Hypothese van de Efficiënte Markt, meende dat de schuld bij de overheden lag. Hun slecht doordachte interventies – vooral die van de door de Amerikaanse regering gesteunde hypotheekbanken Fannie Mae en Freddie Mac, en die van de Community Reinvestment Act – hadden de marktprikkels verstoord. Sommige studenten omarmden zelfs het betoog van de Amerikaanse libertariër Ron Paul, die het bestaan van de Federal Reserve als noodkredietverlener als hoofdoorzaak van de crisis aanwees.

Nog eens een derde, aan het andere uiteinde van het politieke spectrum, zag de vroegere Fed-voorzitter Alan Greenspan als de grootste schurk. Het was Greenspans beruchte weigering om in te grijpen op de financiële markten, zelfs toen de kredietverlening uit de hand liep en de aandelenkoersen geen verband meer leken te houden met de werkelijkheid, die het probleem had geschapen. In bredere zin hadden de westerse regeringen, met hun omzichtige benadering van het financiële toezicht, de markten begin deze eeuw uit de bocht laten vliegen.

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