Why are banking systems unstable in so many countries--but not
in others? The United States has had twelve systemic banking crises
since 1840, while Canada has had none. The banking systems of
Mexico and Brazil have not only been crisis prone but have provided
miniscule amounts of credit to business enterprises and households.
Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom,
the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several
centuries, "Fragile by Design" demonstrates that chronic banking
crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen
circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex
bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders,
depositors, debtors, and taxpayers. The well-being of banking
systems depends on the abilities of political institutions to
balance and limit how coalitions of these various groups influence
"Fragile by Design" is a revealing exploration of the ways that
politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation. Charles
Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics
to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other
interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined,
and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a
banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts
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