All About Alumni / Spring 2009
The Finance Crisis and Rescue

What Went Wrong? Why? What Lessons Can Be Learned?


It might be years before we know the full ramifications of the global financial crisis, but its origins are clear, according to the 10 Rotman School professors and one business journalist who contributed to The Finance Crisis and Rescue (Rotman/UTP Publishing). This accessible primer diagnoses the problem from several perspectives, but is short on potential cures.

In one of the collection’s best essays, journalist Michael Hlinka (BA 1980 VIC, MBA 1986) pinpoints the cause of the catastrophe when he says that too many Americans defaulted on their mortgages at the same time after banks issued mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. No one accurately assessed risk, or considered what would happen if housing prices fell.

Many commentators have said that greater regulation of the finance industry is needed, but Hlinka argues that what is truly required is a shift in mindset. Once upon a time, if you wanted to buy a house, you made a 25 per cent down payment and paid off the mortgage over 25 years. North Americans, he says, could do worse than to revisit this simple precept.


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