Financial experts agree; it is safe to say that the financial crisis of 2008 is over. Law professor and former assistant Treasury secretary Michael S. Barr, however, believes that it is only a matter of time until Americans experience another financial crash — and the next financial crisis will be wholly our fault.
The first of Five Ways the Financial System Will Fail Next Time (the working title of Barr’s book) has already reared is ugly head. According to Barr, Americans will prompt another financial crisis due to amnesia. Too few Americans will remember what started the recent fiscal turmoil. In other words, they will have “amnesia, willing or otherwise,” Barr continues.
Texas Republican, Representative Jeb Hensarling, exhibited amnesia during a House Financial Services Committee this week. Hensarling told a roomful of committee members that he “saw no danger to the system from insurance companies, which are ‘heavily regulated at the state level,’” according to The New York Times. The New Your Times adds that The American International Group, an insurance company, suffered incredible losses in 2008 — and may very well have contributed to the nation’s financial downfall.
Timothy Geithner, also a former Treasury secretary, adds that there is a definite pattern to large-scale and personal crises. “People lose confidence that their money is safe — whether they’re stockholders or bondholders, institutional investors of elderly widows — so they rush to pull it out of the system, which makes the money remaining in the system even less safe, which makes everyone even less confident,” Geithner tells USA Today. A recent survey, moreover, suggests that Americans are extremely confident in their financial advisers. Forty-seven percent admitted that they would rather pay commissions than a flat fee, suggesting that they have high hopes that — with a little added incentive — financial advisers will help them earn more money. This confidence is not misplaced, but it does imply that Americans will retract their funds in large groups — if that’s what professionals recommend.