The Corner

Economy & Business

Uncommon Knowledge: The 2008 Financial Crisis Ten Years Later

101%: National debt-to-GDP ratio, up from 70%.

Ten years ago, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression hit the United States and spread to other countries, including the United Kingdom. Here to discuss what happened then and where the world is now are former Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh and former chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Kevin Warsh and George Osborne discuss the 2008 financial crisis, how they dealt with it at the time, what they would have done differently, and whether the economy is headed toward another downturn. Warsh discusses how the United States failed to realize how bad the crisis was until it was already too late. The crisis had a huge impact on Europe and the United States and set off a global panic. However, within two years the economy was already growing by 2 percent and the quantitative easing used by the Fed was no longer needed as the world changed.

Warsh and Osborne analyze the state of the U.S. and U.K. economies today and the trade war with China. They argue that there are two ways to approach China: either try to contain it or co-opt it. Innovation and growth in the United States are necessary to prevent China from gaining more purchasing power and greater influence on the international market.  Osborne analyzes the effects Brexit could have on the single market and trade with the U.K.’s geographically closest trading partner, France, and airs his concerns about what Brexit means for the U.K.’s future. He argues that Margaret Thatcher, who helped create the single market in the EU, would never have voted to leave it.

While a future financial crisis is always possible, Warsh and Osborne end on optimistic notes: that there is still room for growth in the two countries’ economies and that a better financial future for many Americans and British is still possible through good economic policies, including lower taxes and less regulation.

Recorded on September 28, 2018

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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