Financial Crisis

What Caused the 2008 Financial Crisis: Market Distortions or Market Failure? A Debate

Former BB&T Bank CEO John Allison vs. Moody's Mark Zandi

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Was the 2008 financial crisis caused by market distortions or market failure?

That was the topic of a public debated hosted by the Soho Forum in New York City on February 20, 2019. It featured John Allison, former CEO of BB&T Bank and former CEO and president of the Cato Institute, and Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's Analytics. Allison argued that market distortions led to the financial crisis, and Zandi attributed the crisis to market failure. Soho Forum Director Gene Epstein moderated.

It was an Oxford-style debate, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event, and the side that gains the most ground is victorious. Allison prevailed by convincing about 10 percent of audience members to change their minds.

Today Allison is an executive in residence at the Wake Forest School of Business. He's author of The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy's Only Hope (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Zandi is the author of Financial Shock: A 360º Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis.

The Soho Forum, which is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village.

Music: "Modum" by Kai Engle is licensed under a CC-BY creative commons license.

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