Notes on the financial crisis

By Bill Kaye-Blake 14/02/2013

I’ve been writing a paper for today’s conference, ‘Lacan and the Discourse of Capitalism’. I’ll post an abstract or paper later, but I wanted to point to a few resources about the financial crisis for your viewing pleasure.

One is this great graphic from the IMF about the structure of MBSs and CDOs. The structure is kind of simple but kind of not, and the graphic captures that pretty well. It’s funny that they use water pipes to show the flow of funds — very MONIAC.

Trawling around looking for information on the problems with MBSs, I came across Professor Adam J. Levitin (Georgetown Law, Washington D.C.). He has been writing about the legal issues of MBSs and testifying to the US Congress (so they have no excuse not to understand the problems). For example, in ‘Robo-Signing, Chain of Title, Loss Mitigation, and Other Issues in Mortgage Servicing’, he bluntly states

The chain of title problems are highly technical, but they pose a potential systemic risk to the US economy.

Unfortunately, I think there’s a tendency just to hope it sorts itself out.

And finally, just in case you’ve forgotten what happened and when, they are places to refresh your memory. The UK Guardian has a nice timeline. For more detail (much more detail), I found a paper by Robert E. Marks, ‘Learning Lessons? The Global Financial Crisis four years on’, helpful. It includes lovely gems like:

2005 August 25−27: Raghuram Rajan (MIT PhD ’91), Economic Counsellor and Director of Research, International Monetary Fund (IMF), presents a paper at a symposium to honour Alan Greenspan’s tenure at the Fed warning that the financial system is taking on potentially dangerous levels of risk. He is mocked.

Just a few reminders of the chaos of the last few years.