Ten years after Lehman Brothers

The ten year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy is fast approaching. Some quick thoughts on what has changed and what we’ve learned over the past decade, with a focus on Europe.

  1. Banks are much safer now than they were in the summer of 2008.
  2. There’s a remarkable lack of entrepreneurship in banking. A few fintechs offer payment services, but payments are only a small part of banking. Where are the new banks?
  3. Related to point 2, and something I’ve changed my mind about over the years: bailing out the banks was the right thing to do. I highly doubt that we would have experienced much creative destruction by letting the financial system collapse. That being said, the way the bailouts were done was horrible.
  4. The way the European establishment handled the euro crisis was an abomination. Fiscal and monetary coordination across Europe would have resulted in lower unemployment, lower debt, lower taxes.
  5. Notwithstanding the importance of money in people’s daily lives, financial literacy is still limited.

Elke dag (Money) Laundry Day

Facebookpost over de rol van banken in de strijd tegen crimineel geld:


Voor wie meer wil lezen over dit onderwerp:

Down to the corporate side!

The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement was a government policy in the People’s Republic of China during the 1960s and 1970s. From Wikipedia: “privileged urban youth [were] sent to mountainous areas or farming villages to learn from the workers and farmers there.”

A lot of economists and economic historians study aggregated data, e.g. gross domestic product, inflation, trade flows, or productivity.

Such a high level approach is valuable. However, the macro perspective by definition misses the details. A macroeconomist will typically explain productivity growth by referring to increases in (human) capital and total factor productivity. But how exactly do concrete changes lead to higher output? Continue reading “Down to the corporate side!”

The most devastating cyberattack in history

Wired has a great article (warning: long but worth your time) on last year’s cyberattack. It started as part of the Russian cyberwar against Ukraine. Almost immediately, companies around the world became collateral damage. Andy Greenberg’s Wired story highlights the impact on shipping giant Maersk.

Just to illustrate the vulnerability of IT systems:

Maersk’s 150 or so domain controllers were programmed to sync their data with one another, so that, in theory, any of them could function as a backup for all the others. But that decentralized backup strategy hadn’t accounted for one scenario: where every domain controller is wiped simultaneously. “If we can’t recover our domain controllers,” a Maersk IT staffer remembers thinking, “we can’t recover anything.”

The total damage caused by the attack has been estimated at $10 billion…

Zijn de Duitse pensioenen onbetaalbaar?

Econoom Carsten Brzeski schrijft in zijn column in De Tijd:

Wie in [het vergrijzend Duitsland] constante pensioenen voor de komende twintig jaar belooft, gooit hoge ogen bij het electoraat, maar is bezig met economische zelfmoord.

Economische zelfmoord, dat klinkt serieus! Laten we verder lezen… Continue reading “Zijn de Duitse pensioenen onbetaalbaar?”

‘Hoe bankiers geld scheppen’ in de boekhandel

Blader je graag in een boek voor je het koopt? Dan is er goed nieuws!

Hoe bankiers geld scheppen is nu ook te koop in deze boekhandels:

Acco (Gent en Leuven)
De Groene Waterman (Antwerpen)
De Raaklijn (Brugge)
De Reyghere (Brugge)
De Zondvloed (Mechelen en Roeselare)
Letters & Co (Deinze)
Theoria (Kortrijk)

A prediction about Turkish government debt

The central government debt of Turkey was 28 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2017.

Although making financial predictions is usually a fool’s game, I’m pretty confident that by the end of 2020, the central government debt of Turkey will be higher than 40 percent of GDP.

My prediction is based on the ongoing crisis. Private debt tends to become public debt in these circumstances. Because the debt is dollar-denominated, it cannot be inflated away.

Check this post in 2021!