The tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers is a good opportunity for us all to reflect on the global financial crisis and the lessons we have learned from it. By now, there is widespread agreement that the crisis was caused by excessive risk-taking by financial institutions. There were increases in leverage and risk-taking, which took the form of excessive reliance on wholesale funding, lower lending standards, inaccurate credit ratings, and complex structured instruments. But why did it happen? How could such a crisis originate in the United States, home to arguably the most sophisticated financial system in the world? At the time, my colleagues and I argued incentive conflicts were at the heart of the crisis and identified reforms that would improve incentives by increasing transparency and accountability in the financial industry as well as government. After all, if large, politically powerful institutions regularly expect to be bailed out if they get into trouble, it is understandable that their risk appetite will be much higher than what is socially optimal.
- Financial Sector