Norges Bank

Working Paper

Resolving the financial crisis: are we heeding the lessons from the Nordics?

Author:
By Claudio Borio, Bent Vale and Goetz von Peter
Series:
Working Paper
Number:
17/2010

Abstract:

How does the management and resolution of the current crisis compare with the response of the Nordic countries in the early 1990s, widely regarded as exemplary? We argue that, while intervention has been prompter, the measures taken so far remain less comprehensive and in-depth. In particular, the cleansing of balance sheets has proceeded more slowly, and less attention has been paid to reducing excess capacity and avoiding competitive distortions. In general, policymakers have given higher priority to sustaining aggregate demand in the short term than to encouraging adjustment in the financial sector and containing moral hazard. We argue that three factors largely explain this outcome: the more international nature of the crisis; the complexity of the instruments involved; and, hardly appreciated so far, the effect of accounting practices on the dynamics of the events, reflecting in particular the prominent role of fair value accounting (and mark to market losses) in relation to amortised cost accounting for loan books. There is a risk that the policies followed so far may delay the establishment of the basis for a sustainably profitable and less risk-prone financial sector.

Norges Bank’s working papers present research projects and reports that are generally not in their final form. Other analyses by Norges Bank’s economists are also included in the series. The views and conclusions in these documents are those of the authors.

Norges Bank’s Working Papers are also distributed by RepEcSSRN and BIS Central Bank Research Hub.

ISSN 1502-8190 (online)

Published 31 August 2010 10:56
Published 31 August 2010 10:56