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Rethinking the financial network

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Speech delivered at the Financial Student Association, Amsterdam, 28th April 2009


Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Bank of England


Through history, there are many examples of human flight on an enormous scale to avoid the effects of pestilence and plague. From yellow fever and cholera in the 19th century to polio and influenza in the 20th. In these cases, human flight fed contagion and contagion fed human catastrophe. The 21st century offered a different model. During the SARS epidemic, human flight was prohibited and contagion contained. In the present financial crisis the flight is of capital, not humans. Yet the scale and contagious consequences may be no less damaging. This financial epidemic may endure in the memories long after SARS has been forgotten. But in halting the spread of future financial epidemics, it is important that the lessons from SARS and from other non-financial networks are not forgotten. 


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