Lisa Herzog

May 2017

Just Financial Markets? Finance in a Just Society, Oxford University Press

The financial system is meant to facilitate efficient allocation of resources, helping people and businesses fund, invest, save, and manage risks. This system is rife with conflicts of interests. Reckless practices, uncontrolled by market forces and effective rules, can cause great harm. Most of the time, the harm from excessive risk in banking is invisible and the culprits remain unaccountable. This chapter discusses the motivations and actions (or inaction) of individuals in the financial system, governments, central banks, academia, and the media that collectively contribute to the persistence of a dangerous and distorted financial system and inadequate, poorly designed regulations. Reassurances that regulators are doing their best to protect the public are false. The underlying problem is a powerful mix of distorted incentives, ignorance, confusion, and lack of accountability. Willful blindness seems to play a role in flawed claims by the system’s enablers that obscure reality, muddling the policy debate.

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