Ever thought you would have to read 21 books to get to the bottom of what caused the financial crisis?Andrew Lo, an economist at MIT, has some bad news: it’s going to take at least 22.
Lo, a leading expert on hedge funds and financial engineering, has written a paper (h/t NPR) for the Journal of Economic Literature describing his experience reading 21 books on the crisis — nine by journalists, 11 by academics and one by a former Treasury Secretary.
His conclusion: In a field that prides itself on its scientific rigour (however dismal), the books reveal that alarmingly few facts about the crisis have been agreed upon. Was there too little or too much regulation? How much of a factor were low interest rates? No one’s been able to say conclusively.
“After each book, I felt like I knew less,” Lo told NPR’s Planet Money.
Economics, he says, has fallen well short of that standard when it comes to understanding the crisis:
“Many of us like to think of ﬁnancial economics as a science, but complex events like the ﬁnancial crisis suggest that this conceit may be more wishful thinking than reality.”