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Law and Contemporary Problems

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law and macroeconomics, financial stability policy, regulatory system


Banking and Finance Law | Law | Law and Economics


Last year, Ben Bernanke published a blockbuster paper whose importance to the emerging field of law and macroeconomics would be hard to overstate. Titled The Real Effects of Disrupted Credit: Evidence from the Global Financial Crisis,' the paper gets to a vital threshold question for financial stability policy: through what channel or channels do financial crises crush the real economy? Bernanke pits what he calls the "household leverage" narrative of the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 against what he calls the "financial fragility" narrative. His empirical analysis comes down firmly on the side of the latter narrative. In this Article, I use Bernanke's blockbuster as a springboard to make several points that are germane to law and macroeconomics as a field of study. First, understanding acute macroeconomic disasters should be central to this field. It has been said that the Great Depression gave birth to macroeconomics. Law and macroeconomics is likewise the product of a macroeconomic catastrophe: the Great Recession. Sharp contractions in output and employment are a source of incalculable human costs and are politically destabilizing.' Better understanding their causes and cures remains as urgent as ever.



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