Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Five Lessons to Draw from the Financial Crisis a Year Ago

The following from the WSJ Economics Blog gives an interesting perspective on 5 lessons that should be learned from the financial crisis that started a year ago. If you want to look over the actual presentation go to link above and click on presentation.

With the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers approaching, economists are listing lessons learned. Among them is Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley.

Here are his five lessons, drawn from a presentation at recent conference sponsored last month by the Central Bank of Argentina and elaborated on in a note to clients last week:

1. “A strong and well-regulated financial system should be the first line of defense against financial shocks …. [T]he more free-market oriented we want our economies to be, the more we need official supervision and oversight of our financial institutions and markets. That’s because truly free-market economies involve a high risk of business failure, and corresponding high risks to the financial institutions and investors that lend to and invest in those businesses. A key lesson from this crisis is that competition among lenders breeds innovation, but also instability.”

2. “Aggressive and persistent policy responses are the second line of defense … [F]rom past crises like Japan’s lost decade, we learned that the persistence of policy support is also critical to facilitate balance-sheet cleanup, offset the drag on the economy, and prevent deflation … For market participants, understanding just how persistent policy support will be is important; they want central bankers to make a clear distinction between the end of easing, which is now underway, and exit strategies or the beginning of tightening, which lie ahead.”

3. “Macroprudential supervision and asset prices should both play bigger roles in monetary policy …. There is broad agreement that a global focus on systemic risk is needed. There is less agreement on exactly how to define and implement it. ”

4. “Flexible exchange rates enhance the ability of monetary policy to respond to shocks.”

5. “Global imbalances contributed to the crisis by allowing internal imbalances to grow. … [R]ecession is helping to rebalance the US and global economies and markets. The question now: Will this rebalancing process be benign and sustainable for economies and markets, or will it be disruptive? I worry about the latter because current US policies are expanding rather than reducing imbalances, and officials elsewhere are limiting exchange-rate adjustment.”

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