Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises (and the current one) – Quick Review

After the last few weeks, it clear we are in the biggest financial crisis in our generation. I read “Stress Test” a few months ago and there are several perspectives that are good to be remembered. Especially during these crazy days where the market shows ‘no bottom’.

“The fundamental causes of this crisis were familiar and straightforward,” Geithner writes. “It began with a mania — the widespread belief that devastating financial crises were a thing of the past, that future recessions would be mild, that gravity-defying home prices would never crash to earth.”

The causes of the crisis, in other words, were the same old-fashioned madness of crowds and extraordinary popular delusions responsible for every panic dating back to the Dutch mania for tulip bulbs. The entire society — including all the big banks and some nonbank financial firms, like the insurance company A.I.G. — simply ignored risk.

The book is telling the story from Mr. Geithner view but to his credit, you do feel that he is honest and straightforward. He served as president of the New York Federal Reserve from late 2003 to 2008 and secretary of the Treasury from 2009 to 2013. So he got to see (and deal with) this global catastrophe from the window seat.

Mr. Geithner  seems to believe that the American financial system is now more or less fully reformed. I still believe that the root cause of the crisis was the bad incentives of financiers and the fact that they didn’t have any ‘skin in the game’.

After the last few weeks, it seems we are deep in another crisis.
This map below shows what is going on in the last month (since mid-Feb 2020):

Let’s hope we will get out of these crazy times and there will be a solution to COVID-19.

As it looks now (see below), the new Manhattan project for the virus is going to be here in the Bay Area.

I hope it will be a success story.

Be strong and helpful.


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