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wealthier and far more extensively regulated than a hundred years back. See A. Shleifer (2005), ‘Understanding
Regulation,’ European Financial Management, 11, 4, pp. 439–451.
The complaints have tended to be mixed up: the Chinese are waging unfair
competition against me, the price of petrol has doubled, I find a toxic asset in my
securities portfolio that I didn’t even know I had, my banks is making trouble
about giving me more credit since it is unable to procure liquidity in a global market
paralysed by mutual distrust. All this, most people have been thinking, should
have something to do with globalisation.
The problems are serious and concrete, but the target is too generic to be useful.
Globalisation involves various aspects: production, trade, finance, migrations,
the diffusion of ideas and knowledge. These aspects all have one characteristic in
common: the heightened mobility made possible by the ICT revolution.
Technology, then, is the prime mover, even if the trade and financial liberalisation
policies adopted in many countries in the 1990s assisted the process.
In effect, globalisation and innovative finance are two sides of the same coin
minted by technological innovation. Because of that deep nature, they are neither
good nor bad, they just represent an opportunity for individuals, for societies, for
economies; they must be understood and governed, and cannot be stopped,
except at the cost of accepting backwardness and marginality.
Disclaimer: The opinions here expressed are only the author’s and do not
involve, in particular, the Bank of Italy. An extended version, in Italian, of this
note is forthcoming in: Il Mulino, 6, 2008.
76 The First Global Financial Crisis of the 21st Century Part II
12 October 2008
Europe’s new crisis plan will hopefully stop the panic. This column explores the
remaining issues – the sharing the burden of transnational bank losses and restarting
the inter-bank lending market. It suggests a technical change to the guarantees
that would produce a better result.
The title of the press release from the emergency Euro area summit is already muddled
– ‘A concerted European action plan of the euro area countries’. The outcome
of this extraordinary summit was neither an action plan, nor was its contents really
specific to the euro area countries.
The limited results of two emergency summits in Europe show how much more
difficult it is to manage a banking crisis in an area in which there is no fiscal solidarity
and even limited regulatory convergence. One cannot just translate the
lessons from past crises, almost all of which were at the national level, to formulate
a European response to the current financial turmoil.
One general lesson from past crises is that it is imperative to avoid a generalised

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