Category Archives: News


Charles W. CalomirisColumbia | SIPA
April 28, 2014

In Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit, Charles W. Calomiris of SIPA and Columbia Business School and Stephen H. Haber of Stanford University examine the historical record in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil to show how banking has played out over time in different nations and, even more important, in different political contexts.

Calomiris and Haber find that banking crises and lack of credit are not accidents, but the product of national political frameworks that reflect the input of multiple stakeholders. They suggest that the well-being of banking systems depends on the abilities of political institutions to balance and limit how coalitions of these various groups influence government regulations.

Professor Calomiris, who is on leave this year to advise the IMF on banking policy, spoke with SIPA News about the book.

» See the full article in SIPA News.

Eric Posner Blog

Eric PosnerEric Posner Blog
March 17, 2014

Fragile by Design, by Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber, is a great book. The authors argue that the stability and efficiency of financial systems in different countries depend on political bargains that set the rules of the game. Authoritarian countries produce inefficient state-owned banking systems because governments cannot commit not to expropriate. But democracies produce a wide range of outcomes, depending on the configuration of constituencies and interest groups. …

» See the full post.

The Next Banking Crisis

Spring 2014

Will the latest round of reform bring an end to subsidizing risky mortgages?

Is America’s housing finance crisis finally behind us? After two years of collapse and three years of stagnation, home prices finally rallied in 2013.

In order to prevent banks from issuing a new round of mortgages that borrowers cannot actually afford, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued rules governing “Qualifying Mortgages” (QM). QM loans are protected from legal challenges by borrowers against the mortgage originator should the borrower be unable to make payments. Banks therefore have an incentive to generate loans that get the QM seal of approval…

» See full article in Regulation, Spring 2014.

» Download the PDF.

Calomiris interview in Prospect

Prospect magazine
March 3, 2014

by Jonathan Derbyshire

Fragile By Design This is a book that wears its historicism on its sleeve—it contains accounts of systemic banking crises dating back to the 18th century which occurred in many different countries (though their focus inevitably falls on the United States). As such, it’s a work of economic history and political economy—intellectual traditions that Calomiris, who I interviewed on his recent visit to London, is happy to place himself in.

» See interview in Prospect.

Everything is Political

Chazen Global Insights
February 28, 2014

In their new book, Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Bank Crises and Scarce Credit, Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues. In this excerpt, the authors outline the premise of their argument that banking systems are only as strong as the policies that regulate them.

» See full article in the Chazen Global Insights.

Economic Policies for the 21st Century

book-coversEconomic Policies for the 21st Century at the Manhattan Institute
February 27, 2014

In their new book, Fragile by Design, Columbia University professor Charles W. Calomiris and Stanford University professor Stephen H. Haber explore why banking systems are unstable in many countries—but not in others. For example, the United States has had 12 systemic banking crises since 1840, while Canada has had none.

» See full article in the Economic Policies for the 21st Century.

Can We Prevent Financial Crises?

The World Bank
February 26, 2014

The emerging markets are in turmoil. Stocks and currencies are falling. Global investors are pulling money out of stocks and bonds. Is another crisis looming?

To answer that question, the World Bank in February held a panel discussion led by authors of three books examining lessons learned from financial crises. Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group president’s special envoy, said the three books can help policy makers examine the current turmoil affecting emerging markets, along with the hypothetical diagnoses proposed by some commentators: distorted asset prices, questionable growth foundations, human behavior, and overborrowing by households and the private sector.

» See full article.
» See video.