The End of Financial Triumphalism?

Despite the deepening crisis in capital markets, financial firms scream murder at proposals to update and strengthen regulation. But if we don't, we will be forever trapped in a system where taxpayers are forced to bail out banks in bad times, while wealthy shareholders reap huge profits in good times.

CAMBRIDGE – Will today’s ever widening global financial crisis mark the end of the era of financial triumphalism? Ask a lay person to list the ten great innovations that drive our world today and you probably won’t find too many who mention the Black-Scholes formula for pricing options. But for the financial community, pioneering formulas that paved the way for modern hedging strategies should get just as much credit for the passing period of rapid global growth as cell phones, computers, and the Internet.

Until the last 12 months, finance advocates seemed to have a strong case. By helping to spread risk, high-tech finance could help economies grow faster. Macroeconomists celebrated the “Great Moderation” of the global business cycle, with recessions seeming to become milder and less frequent. And, of course, the financial community was making money hand over fist, creating scores of millionaires and even billionaires worldwide. 

Governments were cheerleaders, too. In anglophone countries, presidents and prime ministers, not to mention some leading central bankers, boasted of superior financial systems that were the envy of the world. When French and German leaders complained that the sprawling and unregulated tentacles of new finance posed huge risks to the global economy, they were derided as sore losers. Small countries such as Iceland decided to get in on the action by privatizing their banks and setting up their own financial centers. If you cannot be Silicon Valley, then why not create a mini-Wall Street?

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/UVISa5u;
  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.