Friday, December 23, 2011

Lessons from the New Financial Crisis The European Financial Review (2011)

The previous crisis of 2008 was blamed on greedy bankers, driven by bonuses tied to short-term profits, trying to sell complicated products that people could not understand. Other culprits were the rating agencies that, also driven by greed and conflicts of interest, deliberately underestimated the risk of structured products so that their paymasters (the banks) could easily sell them to unsuspecting clients. Even business schools, and in particular finance professors, were blamed for teaching that companies should maximize shareholder value. In many cases, these accusations were made by people who had never taken a finance course and did not understand the difference between shareholder value, the stock price and profits. The political left around the world had a field day, proclaiming the end of capitalism and the need for government control over the economy.