Study the financial crisis with the new Greek PM | FT Alphaville

Study the financial crisis with the new Greek PM

It’s not just the rise of the technocrats, it’s the rise of the professors, too.

On Thursday afternoon the ECB announced Lorenzo Bini Smaghi was leaving the bank, presumably to make way for a Frenchman, and taking a gig at Harvard University.

In doing so he almost passes another technocrat going the other way. Last semester, Lucas Papademos was a visiting professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and taught a class entitled “The Global Financial Crisis: Policy Responses and Challenges”.

Here’s the syllabus (click through to read), and here’s the course description (note the final class):

This course examines policies aimed at the prevention and management of financial crises in the light of recent experience. Topics covered include: macroeconomic and microfinancial causes and contributing factors to the global financial crisis; the role of central bank policies in crisis management and prevention; fiscal stimulus packages and bank support schemes; financial regulatory reform and the G20 process; systemic risk and macroprudential supervision; the fiscal legacy of the financial turbulence and the economic recession; and the European sovereign debt crisis.

The main reading list is pretty standard stuff. (In fact, we were surprised how many of the articles were from the last year or two — a bit more historical perspective might have been useful to students.) Though a certain New York Times blogger may be relieved to see himself recommended throughout the course:

C. M. Reinhart and K. S. Rogoff (RR), This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Princeton University Press, 2009.

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report (FCIR), Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States, Public Affairs, 2011.

Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, On the Financial Crisis and Economic Policy, The MIT Press, Fall 2010.

P. Krugman (K), The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008, W.W. Norton and Co., 2009.

R. Rajan (R), Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, Princeton University Press, 2010.

Financial Stability Forum (FSF), Report on Enhancing Market and Institutional Resilience, April 2008.

K. R. French et al, The Squam Lake Report: Fixing the Financial System (SLR), Princeton University Press, 2010.

Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Annual Report, June 2009

And here’s the final assignment:

You have just been appointed Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic (Greece), as part of a coalition government. Most observers believe your country to have already defaulted in all but name. Real GDP is forecast to fall by 5.5 per cent in 2011. The unemployment rate is 16.6 per cent. Several large demonstrations have taken place on the streets of Athens in recent months. Your government is one of “national unity” in name only. Greek banks are finding it difficult to remain liquid. The IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank (“the troika”) has offered Greece a €130bn bail-out deal, including 50 per cent write-downs in debt held by creditors, in exchange for structural reforms, some of which build on the reforms your predecessors have thus far failed to complete in full. People across the eurozone — and the world — are increasingly worried, too, about Italy, whose 10-year government debt yields around 7 per cent amid political crisis. France is still rated AAA by leading credit rating agencies but spreads over German bunds have reached euro-era highs and French banks are causing concern among some analysts due to their holdings of Italian debt. The German Chancellor insists the current course of action is the only way forward.

Question A: Do you accept the latest troika offer? Why?

Question B: In the longer-term, should you prepare to withdraw from the eurozone? Why?

In your answers do not assume any action by the European Central Bank.

Okay, we made up the assignment. But if you want to see his likely answer, here’s a post he wrote for Vox EU on October 26.

But we didn’t make up the prerequisites:

Principles of economics and macroeconomics at the intermediate level would be useful but are not required.

Related link:
Video: The European Economic Crisis Seminar Series: The Case of Greece – Keynote – CSIS
The pitfalls of EZ sovereign debt restructuring – Lucas Papademos (Vox EU)