Timothy Geithner on Crisis Timing

Timothy Geithner: it’s very hard in the moment, in that early stage to know whether it’s going to be systemic, run like stampede or whether it’s going to be more like a contained shock where the failure of an individual firm doesn’t light the rest of the system on fire.  Very hard to know.  So the optimal way, I think, to respond in some sense is you should let the fire burn for a while because that's just, makes sense, helps to make people aware of risk, helps to clean up the worst parts of the system.  But you have to be prepared to escalate very, very quickly if that fire starts to burn out of control to start to imperil the strong, not just the weak.  So it’s in the fog of diagnosis you won’t be sure up front.  And if you decide at the first sign of stress you act – you intervene aggressively to protect people from risk, that’ll be a different kind of mistake.  Because in that context you leave too much of the weak parts of the system alive and you’ll end up making a future crisis more likely.

But on the other hand if you wait too long as what happened in the United States because we didn’t have enough tools and authority initially until Congress acted, and you allow it to get momentum.  Then the consequences can be devastating, very hard to break the panic if it’s too powerful.  Very hard to put out the fire and it takes what you saw to know what you are able to do -  which is massive overwhelming financial force to again protect people from the consequences of the panic.

Former United States Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner describes the importance of timing and action during a financial crisis. Geithner is the author of Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises (http://goo.gl/v0R9pg).

Essential financial life skills for 21st-century Americans

Having these financial life skills can help you navigate challenging economic environments.

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash
Personal Growth
  • Americans are swimming in increasingly higher amounts of debt, even the upper middle class.
  • For many, this burden can be alleviated by becoming familiar with some straightforward financial concepts.
  • Here's some essential financial life skills needed to ensure your economic wellbeing.
Keep reading Show less

New study finds the egg may actually 'choose' the Sperm

Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.

popular
Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less