Seizing the Future
1. The 2008 financial crisis1 INTRODUCTION The 2008 financial crisis has been a shock to many actors in, and observers of, the economy. This is not so much because it came as a surprise but because it implied a real questioning of many ideas and rules previously thought to be certain and universal, as well as a profound rethinking about the relationship between the state and the market. The crisis is first and foremost a crisis of trust; consumers no longer having trust in the stability of the economic system. The crisis stemmed from an unforeseen collapse of the financial and housing markets in the US that spread to the whole world economy through a mechanistic reduction in the value of savings. This transformed the financial crisis into a real crisis with a negative effect on expectations and a complete stop in demand growth. The implosion of the US housing market, due to unsustainable sub-prime mortgages, led to a crisis of the banks, the dispersion of savings, a drastic fall in US demand followed by a fall in US production and a fall in US imports, causing the contagion of the crisis to the rest of the world: first to Europe and then to China and emerging markets. The crisis saw an enormous bubble burst, a bubble created from three main ingredients. First, there was the abundant liquidity in world capital markets fed by the large payment imbalances between countries (a current account deficit in the US Fed by capital...
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