"Once-in-a-lifetime" financial crises have been a recurrent part of life in the last three decades. It is no longer possible to dismiss or ignore them as aberrations in an otherwise well-functioning system. Nor are they peculiar to recent times. Going back in history, asset price bubbles and bank-runs have been an endemic feature of the capitalist system over the last four centuries. The historical record offers a treasure trove of experience that may shed light on how and why financial crises happen and what can be done to avoid them - provided we are willing to learn from history.
This book interweaves historical accounts with competing economic crisis theories and reveals why commentaries are often contradictory. First, it presents a series of episodes from tulip mania in the 17th century to the subprime mortgage meltdown. In order to tease out their commonalities and differences, it describes political, economic, and social backgrounds, identifies the primary actors and institutions, and explores the mechanisms behind the asset price bubbles, crashes, and bank-runs. Second, it starts with basic economic concepts and builds five competing theoretical approaches to understanding financial crises. Competing theoretical standpoints offer different interpretations of the same event, and draw dissimilar policy implications.
This book analyses divergent interpretations of the historical record in relation to how markets function, the significance of market imperfections, economic decision-making process, the role of the government, and evolutionary dynamics of the capitalist system. Its diverse theoretical and historical content of this book complements economics, history and political science curriculum.
1. Introduction 2. Tulip Mania 3. The Mississippi Bubble 4. The South Sea Bubble 5. Rationality, Fundamentals, and Prices: First Principles 6. Explaining Asset Price Bubbles and Banking Crises 7. Technological Revolutions and Speculation: 19th-century British Railways and Banks8. The American Experience I: The Antebellum Era9. The American Experience II: The Gilded Age 10. The Crash of 192911. Mighty Magic of the Market 12. The Conjuration of the Financial Markets13. The 1980s: Financial Capitalism Unchained 14. The 1990s: The Triumph of Financial Capitalism 15. The Latest Act: Sub-prime Mortgages and Derivatives 16. The Latest Act: The Crash of the 2000s17. Two Legacies of the Subprime Sinkhole
Social Theory is experiencing something of a revival within economics. Critical analyses of the particular nature of the subject matter of social studies and of the types of method, categories and modes of explanation that can legitimately be endorsed for the scientific study of social objects, are re-emerging. Economists are again addressing such issues as the relationship between agency and structure, between economy and the rest of society, and between the enquirer and the object of enquiry. There is a renewed interest in elaborating basic categories such as causation, competition, culture, discrimination, evolution, money, need, order, organization, power probability, process, rationality, technology, time, truth, uncertainty, value etc.
The objective for this series is to facilitate this revival further. In contemporary economics the label “theory” has been appropriated by a group that confines itself to largely asocial, ahistorical, mathematical “modelling”. Economics as Social Theory thus reclaims the “Theory” label, offering a platform for alternative rigorous, but broader and more critical conceptions of theorizing.