There are different types of bubbles, with economists primarily interested in two major types of bubbles:. An equity bubble is characterised by tangible investments and the unsustainable desire to satisfy a legitimate market in high demand. These kind of bubbles are characterised by easy liquidity, tangible and real assets, and an actual innovation that boosts confidence.
A debt bubble is characterised by intangible or credit based investments with little ability to satisfy growing demand in a non-existent market. These bubbles are not backed by real assets and are characterized by frivolous lending in the hopes of returning a profit or security. These bubbles usually end in debt deflation causing bank runs or a currency crisis when the government can no longer maintain the fiat currency.
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The impact of economic bubbles is debated within and between schools of economic thought ; they are not generally considered beneficial, but it is debated how harmful their formation and bursting is. Within mainstream economics , many believe that bubbles cannot be identified in advance, cannot be prevented from forming, that attempts to "prick" the bubble may cause financial crisis , and that instead authorities should wait for bubbles to burst of their own accord, dealing with the aftermath via monetary policy and fiscal policy.
Political economist Robert E. Wright argues that bubbles can be identified before the fact with high confidence. In addition, the crash which usually follows an economic bubble can destroy a large amount of wealth and cause continuing economic malaise; this view is particularly associated with the debt-deflation theory of Irving Fisher , and elaborated within Post-Keynesian economics.
A protracted period of low risk premiums can simply prolong the downturn in asset price deflation as was the case of the Great Depression in the s for much of the world and the s for Japan. Not only can the aftermath of a crash devastate the economy of a nation, but its effects can also reverberate beyond its borders.
Another important aspect of economic bubbles is their impact on spending habits.
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Market participants with overvalued assets tend to spend more because they "feel" richer the wealth effect. Many observers quote the housing market in the United Kingdom , Australia , New Zealand , Spain and parts of the United States in recent times, as an example of this effect. When the bubble inevitably bursts, those who hold on to these overvalued assets usually experience a feeling of reduced wealth and tend to cut discretionary spending at the same time, hindering economic growth or, worse, exacerbating the economic slowdown.
In an economy with a central bank, the bank may therefore attempt to keep an eye on asset price appreciation and take measures to curb high levels of speculative activity in financial assets. Historically, this is not the only approach taken by central banks. It has been argued  that they should stay out of it and let the bubble, if it is one, take its course.
In the s, excess monetary expansion after the U. These bubbles only ended when the U. Similarly, low interest rate policies by the U. Federal Reserve in the — are believed to have exacerbated housing and commodities bubbles. The housing bubble popped as subprime mortgages began to default at much higher rates than expected, which also coincided with the rising of the fed funds rate. It has also been variously suggested that bubbles may be rational,  intrinsic,  and contagious.
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Puzzlingly for some, bubbles occur even in highly predictable experimental markets, where uncertainty is eliminated and market participants should be able to calculate the intrinsic value of the assets simply by examining the expected stream of dividends. Experimental bubbles have proven robust to a variety of conditions, including short-selling, margin buying, and insider trading.
While there is no clear agreement on what causes bubbles, there is evidence [ citation needed ] to suggest that they are not caused by bounded rationality or assumptions about the irrationality of others, as assumed by greater fool theory. It has also been shown that bubbles appear even when market participants are well-capable of pricing assets correctly. More recent theories of asset bubble formation suggest that they are likely sociologically-driven events, thus explanations that merely involve fundamental factors or snippets of human behavior are incomplete at best.
For instance, qualitative researchers Preston Teeter and Jorgen Sandberg argue that market speculation is driven by culturally-situated narratives that are deeply embedded in and supported by the prevailing institutions of the time. One possible cause of bubbles is excessive monetary liquidity in the financial system, inducing lax or inappropriate lending standards by the banks , which makes markets vulnerable to volatile asset price inflation caused by short-term, leveraged speculation.
Weber , the former president of the Deutsche Bundesbank , has argued that "The past has shown that an overly generous provision of liquidity in global financial markets in connection with a very low level of interest rates promotes the formation of asset-price bubbles. According to the explanation, excessive monetary liquidity easy credit, large disposable incomes potentially occurs while fractional reserve banks are implementing expansionary monetary policy i.
Those who believe the money supply is controlled exogenously by a central bank may attribute an 'expansionary monetary policy' to said bank and should one exist a governing body or institution; others who believe that the money supply is created endogenously by the banking sector may attribute such a 'policy' with the behavior of the financial sector itself, and view the state as a passive or reactive factor.
Explanations focusing on interest rates tend to take on a common form, however: When interest rates are set excessively low, regardless of the mechanism by which it is accomplished investors tend to avoid putting their capital into savings accounts. Instead, investors tend to leverage their capital by borrowing from banks and invest the leveraged capital in financial assets such as stocks and real estate. Risky leveraged behavior like speculation and Ponzi schemes can lead to an increasingly fragile economy, and may also be part of what pushes asset prices artificially upward until the bubble pops.
Paul Krugman . Simply put, economic bubbles often occur when too much money is chasing too few assets, causing both good assets and bad assets to appreciate excessively beyond their fundamentals to an unsustainable level. This may involve actions like bailouts of the financial system, but also others that reverse the trend of monetary accommodation, commonly termed forms of 'contractionary monetary policy'. Ideally, such countermeasures lessen the impact of a downturn by strengthening financial institutions while the economy is strong.
Advocates of perspectives stressing the role of credit money in an economy often refer to such bubbles as "credit bubbles", and look at such measures of financial leverage as debt-to-GDP ratios to identify bubbles. Typically the collapse of any economic bubble results in an economic contraction termed if less severe a recession or if more severe a depression; what economic policies to follow in reaction to such a contraction is a hotly debated perennial topic of political economy.
The importance of liquidity was derived in a mathematical setting  and in an experimental setting   see Section "Experimental and mathematical economics". Greater fool theory states that bubbles are driven by the behavior of perennially optimistic market participants the fools who buy overvalued assets in anticipation of selling it to other speculators the greater fools at a much higher price.
According to this explanation, the bubbles continue as long as the fools can find greater fools to pay up for the overvalued asset. The bubbles will end only when the greater fool becomes the greatest fool who pays the top price for the overvalued asset and can no longer find another buyer to pay for it at a higher price.
This theory is popular among laity but has not yet been fully confirmed by empirical research. Clifford Asness . Extrapolation is projecting historical data into the future on the same basis; if prices have risen at a certain rate in the past, they will continue to rise at that rate forever. The argument is that investors tend to extrapolate past extraordinary returns on investment of certain assets into the future, causing them to overbid those risky assets in order to attempt to continue to capture those same rates of return. Overbidding on certain assets will at some point result in uneconomic rates of return for investors; only then the asset price deflation will begin.
When investors feel that they are no longer well compensated for holding those risky assets, they will start to demand higher rates of return on their investments.
Another related explanation used in behavioral finance lies in herd behavior , the fact that investors tend to buy or sell in the direction of the market trend. Investment managers, such as stock mutual fund managers, are compensated and retained in part due to their performance relative to peers.
Taking a conservative or contrarian position as a bubble builds results in performance unfavorable to peers. This may cause customers to go elsewhere and can affect the investment manager's own employment or compensation. The typical short-term focus of U. In attempting to maximize returns for clients and maintain their employment, they may rationally participate in a bubble they believe to be forming, as the risks of not doing so outweigh the benefits.
Moral hazard is the prospect that a party insulated from risk may behave differently from the way it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk. A person's belief that they are responsible for the consequences of their own actions is an essential aspect of rational behavior. An investor must balance the possibility of making a return on their investment with the risk of making a loss — the risk-return relationship. A moral hazard can occur when this relationship is interfered with, often via government policy. But in global growth was decent, unemployment fell and profits rose.
If talks over the next month lead to a deal with Xi Jinping, relieved markets will conclude that the trade war is about political theatre and squeezing a few concessions from China, not detonating global commerce. Such complacency is mistaken. As we explain, cross-border investment, trade, bank loans and supply chains have all been shrinking or stagnating relative to world GDP see Briefing.
Globalisation has given way to a new era of sluggishness. The golden age of globalisation, in , was something to behold. Commerce soared as the cost of shifting goods in ships and planes fell, phone calls got cheaper, tariffs were cut and the financial system liberalised. International activity went gangbusters, as firms set up around the world, investors roamed and consumers shopped in supermarkets with enough choice to impress Phileas Fogg. The cost of moving goods has stopped falling. Multinational firms have found that global sprawl burns money and that local rivals often eat them alive.
Activity is shifting towards services, which are harder to sell across borders: scissors can be exported in 20ft-containers, hair stylists cannot. And Chinese manufacturing has become more self-reliant, so needs to import fewer parts. Tariffs tend to get the most attention. If America ratchets up duties on China in March, as it has threatened, the average tariff rate on all American imports will rise to 3.
Most firms plan to pass the cost on to customers. Less glaring, but just as pernicious, is that rules of commerce are being rewritten around the world. The principle that investors and firms should be treated equally regardless of their nationality is being ditched. Evidence for this is everywhere. Rules on privacy, data and espionage are splintering. Tax systems are being bent to patriotic ends—in America to prod firms to repatriate capital, in Europe to target Silicon Valley. America and the EU have new regimes for vetting foreign investment, while China, despite its bluster, has no intention of giving foreign firms a level playing-field.
Even humdrum areas such as accounting and antitrust are fragmenting.
Trade is suffering as firms use up the inventories they had stocked in anticipation of higher tariffs. Expect more of this in There are now signs that an adjustment is beginning. The new world will work differently. The passage of the TARP bill also demonstrated the critical importance of frank communication between the executive and legislative branches.
Yet as the conversations in this article reveal, deep-seated partisanship and institutional rivalry yielded to realistic collaboration. Equally frank communication existed among key staff whose long-standing relationships facilitated partnership even when their bosses appeared to be at loggerheads. Perhaps no factor influenced the successful outcome more than the magnitude and urgency of the crisis itself, a common feature of periods of congressional achievement.
The steadily worsening economy, rising unemployment, and loss of millions of homes since the February stimulus had not prompted a bipartisan response, and Republicans remained resistant to adding anti-recessionary initiatives to TARP. But the imminent collapse of key banking, investment, and insurance companies compelled joint action because the alternative was simply too dire to contemplate. Others, however, regard the bailout as a shameful example of how Congress acted only because of the urgent danger that jeopardized well-connected corporate interests.
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Indeed, promises made during the negotiations—to address the underlying causes of the crisis and its victims—proved less successful. Bush pledged investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and an expanded Hope Now program to keep people in their homes, but there was little time or energy left in his administration for either. Congress approved the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act less than two years later to establish safeguards against a recurrence of the behavior that led to the meltdown, but many critics complained that the necessary compromises needed to win passage left Wall Street insufficiently punished or regulated.
By then, the crisis atmosphere that facilitated the TARP law had long since evaporated, and only three Republicans voted for the Dodd-Frank conference report in the House and the Senate. For critics, TARP remains not an example of diligent public servants overcoming partisan and institutional interests, but indisputable evidence of what is wrong with American politics. Two and a half years after the crisis, 4 million families had lost their homes, and an additional 4. It took nearly a decade for home-ownership rates to register an increase, and black ownership, which had reached a historic high in , remains at its lowest level in nearly three decades.
And yet, TARP supporters note, the nation averted plunging into an abyss that would have made each of those measures catastrophically worse. The law evoked a sense of betrayal: the political elite predictably rushing to aid the financial elite with the hard-earned tax dollars of the largely ignored working and middle classes.
Indeed, what emerged from the ashes of the September meltdown was not only a revitalized Wall Street, with high salaries, stratospheric bonuses, and golden parachutes galore, but also the enraged Tea Party movement of As the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the Paulson-Bernanke-Pelosi phone calls of September 18, , efforts are under way to roll back many of the rules designed in the wake of the crisis. It is impossible to foresee whether this relaxation of regulations might allow a recurrence of the very misbehavior that brought the nation to the edge of the abyss only a decade ago.
What seems beyond debate, however, is that the breakdown of comity between the White House and Congress, and the deepened levels of partisan distrust within the House and the Senate, would make it far more difficult today to replicate the actions of should a comparable crisis recur.
The harsh reminder of how close the economy of the United States, and the world, came to a meltdown in should be more than sufficient reason for collaboration and pragmatism in politics rather than the perpetuation of the stultifying gridlock that has seized Washington.
In his rambling screed against the soccer star, the president revealed a lot about his worldview. Finish the job! Be proud of the Flag that you wear. Democrats who watched the second debate on Thursday probably thought their party had a good night. It did not, and they should worry. Their first worry is the weakness of former Vice President Joe Biden. He has led the Democratic pack—and he polls well with the larger public—on the strength of his offer of a return to normality after the maelstrom of the Trump presidency. The big doubt about Biden: Can he cope with the ferocious malignancy that is Donald Trump?
When Trump roars and raves, abuses and insults, can Biden meet and master the obscenity of it all? Last night, Biden showed that the answer is probably: no. Biden knew it was coming. He had answers ready.
And yet, they were inadequate: bureaucratic, incomprehensible, faintly aggrieved. My name is on a hundred pieces of legislation that have made life better for Americans of every race, every background, men and women. Five years ago, the flight vanished into the Indian Ocean. Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say. At a. The designator for Malaysia Airlines is MH. The flight number was Fariq Hamid, the first officer, was flying the airplane. He was 27 years old. This was a training flight for him, the last one; he would soon be fully certified.
His trainer was the pilot in command, a man named Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who at 53 was one of the most senior captains at Malaysia Airlines. In Malaysian style, he was known by his first name, Zaharie. He was married and had three adult children. He lived in a gated development.
He owned two houses.
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In his first house he had installed an elaborate Microsoft flight simulator. The former vice president was enjoying his status as the front-runner. When he spoke, he speechified as though the others were just onstage coincidentally, not rivals for the nomination.
Senator Kamala Harris had other ideas. As the white men onstage around her sparred over police violence—with Swalwell making a daring attack on Mayor Pete Buttigieg—Harris broke in, as she had several times earlier in the night, and asserted her right to be heard. They were talking about E. Jean Carroll, the longtime Elle advice columnist who, for the first time last week, publicly accused Donald Trump of assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room more than 20 years ago. And what they were trying to do was locate the latest number of women who have accused the president of sexual misconduct.
The answer: at least The juxtaposition of these two events, purely coincidental, underscored how much of American politics in the years ahead is likely to turn on that elemental question. These words came from an elderly woman sitting behind me on a late-night flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D. The plane was dark and quiet. To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. I listened with morbid fascination, forming an image of the man in my head as they talked.