Endogenous Transactions Costs and Institutions in the 2007/08 Financial Crisis

46 Pages Posted: 16 May 2015

Date Written: May 14, 2015


This paper examines the manner by which transactions costs in financial markets, broadly defined, not only derive from the regulatory-institutional framework, but in turn affect the development of this framework. We develop a simple model of policymaking with common agency that embeds endogenous transactions costs and institutions, so that the two are allowed to influence each other over time. Our approach seeks to go beyond attributing the crisis to either complex finance or regulatory/government failures, since such explanations generate necessary but not sufficient conditions for a financial crisis. Instead, we focus on the central role of rising transactions costs. We document the increasing presence of such costs in the U.S. financial sector since 1980, along with how changes in transactions costs coevolved with regulatory and institutional innovations over the past 30 years. We argue that such transactions costs amplified an ever-greater disconnect between market prices and their economic fundamentals, and increased financial fragility to the point that the system became vulnerable to the 2007/08 financial crisis.

Keywords: Institutional corruption, financial crisis, transactions costs, endogenous regulatory institutions

JEL Classification: D23, F34, G01

Suggested Citation

Lim, Jamus Jerome and Tan, Terence, Endogenous Transactions Costs and Institutions in the 2007/08 Financial Crisis (May 14, 2015). Edmond J. Safra Working Papers, No. 63, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2606295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2606295

Jamus Jerome Lim (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Terence Tan

Independent ( email )

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