Financial crises are devastating in human and economic terms. To avoid the next one, it is important to understand the recent financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the financial eras which preceded it.
Gary Gorton has been studying financial crises since his 1983 PhD thesis, "Banking Panics." The Maze of Bankingcontains a collection of his academic papers on the subjects of banks, banking, and financial crises. The papers in this volume span almost 175 years of U.S. banking history, from pre-U.S. Civil War private bank notes issued during the U.S. Free Banking Era (1837-1863); followed by the U.S. National Banking Era (1863-1914) before there was a central bank; through loan sales, securitization, and the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Banking changed profoundly during these 175 years, yet it did not change in fundamental ways. The forms of money changed, resulting in associated changes in the information structure of the economy. Bank debt evolved as an instrument for storing value, smoothing consumption, and transactions, but its fundamental nature did not change. In all its forms, it is vulnerable to bank runs without government intervention.
These papers provide the framework for understanding how the financial crisis of 2007-2008 developed and what can be done to promote a stabile banking industry and prevent future economic crises.
Gary B. Gorton, Frederick Frank Class of 1954 Professor of Management and Professor of Finance, School of Management, Yale University