Financial Crisis

Financial Crisis

09-093 July 22, 2009

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 – 2009: The Role of Greed, Fear and Oligarchs
Cate Reavis

Free enterprise is always the right answer. The problem with it is that it ignores the human element. It does not take into account the complexities of human behavior. 1 —Andrew Lo, Professor of Finance, MIT Sloan School of Management The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. 2 —Simon Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management, Former Chief Economist, IMF

On October 9, 2007 the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a record by closing at 14,047. One year later, the Dow was just above 8,000, after dropping 21% in the first nine days of October 2008. Major stock markets in other countries had plunged alongside the Dow. Credit markets were nearing paralysis. Companies began to lay off workers in droves and were forced to put off capital investments. Individual consumers were being denied loans for mortgages and college tuitions. After the nine day U.S. stock market plunge, the head of the International Monetary Fund had some sobering words: “Intensifying solvency concerns about a number of the largest U.S.-based and European financial institutions have pushed the global financial system to the brink of systemic meltdown.” 3
1 2 3

Interview with the case writer, April 10, 2009. Simon Johnson, “The Quiet Coup,” The Atlantic, May 2009. “IMF in Global ‘Meltdown’ Warning,” BBC News, October 12, 2008.

This case was prepared by Cate Reavis under the supervision of Deputy Dean JoAnne Yates. Copyright © 2009, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or...

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