Since July 2007, the world economy has experienced a severe financial crisis that originated in the U.S. housing market. Subsequently, the crisis has spread to financial sectors in European and Asian economies and led to a severe worldwide recession. The existing literature on financial crises rarely distinguishes between factors that create the original strain on the financial sector and factors that explain why these strains lead to system-wide contagion and a possible credit crunch. Most of the literature on financial crises refers to factors that cause an original disruption in the financial system. We argue that a financial crisis with its contagion within the system is caused by failures of legal, regulatory, and political institutions.


We are grateful for comments on the draft presented at Asia Economic Panel meeting in Jakarta 23 March 2009.

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