1. The Evolution of Finance

It was a perfect storm. Beginning in 2007, a cascade of extreme events rocked the global financial system, outstripping the risks imagined by central bankers, financial professionals, and policymakers. Within a year’s time, international stock market declines had destroyed trillions of dollars in wealth. In the wake of the housing meltdown and the ensuing “Great Recession,” pension systems remain fragile and household balance sheets are a wreck.

A confusing alphabet soup of acronyms (think CDOs squared, then cubed, and stuffed with SIVs, CMOs, CLOs, and CDSs) dominated the headlines. With their leverage levels on steroids, many financial institutions and firms had gorged on these overly complex products. The press ...

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