NBER Working Paper – The Puzzling Persistence of Financial Crises

Charles W. Calomiris, Matthew S. Jaremski

March 2024


The high social costs of financial crises imply that economists, policymakers, businesses, and households have a tremendous incentive to understand, and try to prevent them. And yet, so far we have failed to learn how to avoid them. In this article, we take a novel approach to studying financial crises. We first build ten case studies of financial crises that stretch over two millennia, and then consider their salient points of differences and commonalities. We see this as the beginning of developing a useful taxonomy of crises – an understanding of the most important factors that reappear across the many examples, which also allows (as in any taxonomy) some examples to be more similar to each other than others. From the perspective of our review of the ten crises, we consider the question of why it has proven so difficult to learn from past crises to avoid future ones.


NBER Working Paper No. 32213 – The Puzzling Persistence of Financial Crises