Bernanke and bank rules: lessons sort of learned

September 29, 2011

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday gave a speech on the lessons about sustained growth that can be gleaned from the experience of emerging markets. Bernanke said not all of the “Washington consensus” policies pushed by multilateral lenders in the 1990s had proven fruitful. In particular, he said the Asian financial crisis showed the risks of opening up financial markets to foreign capital flows until a country has implemented measures to strengthen banks and regulation.

Yet Bernanke missed an opportunity to link his speech back to the recent experience of the United States. For while his message was tailored for the developing world, he may as well have been describing the U.S. banking sector in the run-up to the 2008-2009 financial crisis:

Dismantling controls on the domestic financial industry has proven counterproductive when important complementary factors — such as effective bank supervision … were absent.


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