Financial Crises



A financial crisis is any of a broad variety of situations in which some financial assets suddenly lose a large part of their nominal value. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many financial crises were associated with banking panics, and many recessions coincided with these panics. Other situations that are often called financial crises include stock market crashes and the bursting of other financial bubbles, currency crises, and sovereign defaults. Financial crises directly result in a loss of paper wealth but do not necessarily result in significant changes in the real economy (e.g. the crisis resulting from the famous tulip mania bubble in the 17th century).
Many economists have offered theories about how financial crises develop and how they could be prevented. There is no consensus, however, and financial crises continue to occur from time to time.
When a bank suffers a sudden rush of withdrawals by depositors, this is called a bank run. Since banks lend out most of the cash they receive in deposits (see fractional-reserve banking), it is difficult for them to quickly pay back all deposits if these are suddenly demanded, so a run renders the bank insolvent, causing customers to lose their deposits, to the extent that they are not covered by deposit insurance. An event in which bank runs are widespread is called a systemic banking crisis or banking panic.
Examples of bank runs include the run on the Bank of the United States in 1931 and the run on Northern Rock in 2007. Banking crises generally occur after periods of risky lending and resulting loan defaults.
A currency crisis, also called a devaluation crisis,[6] is normally considered as part of a financial crisis. Kaminsky et al. (1998), for instance, define currency crises as occurring when a weighted average of monthly percentage depreciations in the exchange rate and monthly percentage declines in exchange reserves exceeds its mean by more than three standard deviations. Frankel and Rose (1996) define a currency crisis as a nominal depreciation of a currency of at least 25% but it is also defined as at least a 10% increase in the rate of depreciation. In general, a currency crisis can be defined as a situation when the participants in an exchange market come to recognize that a pegged exchange rate is about to fail, causing speculation against the peg that hastens the failure and forces a devaluation.