Dr. James Barth wants to help prevent another financial crisis in the U.S. That’s one reason why
the Auburn University College of Business Lowder Eminent Scholar in Finance penned, with two others, “Guardians of Finance: Making Regulators Work for Us.”
Co-authored by Gerard Caprio, Jr., and Ross Levine, their book, published by MIT Press
in 2012, captured honorable mention in the Business, Finance and Management category
for the 2012 PROSE Awards given by the Association of American Publishers.
“The book is about the 10 years leading up to the worst financial crisis in the U.S.
since the Great Depression,” Dr. Barth said. “Our view is there have been lots of
books written about the financial crisis itself, but not a book that talks about the
events leading up to the financial crisis. We focus on what contributed to it? And
what made it more severe?”
The book won praise from several noteworthy financial scholars, including Charles
Goodhart of the London School of Economics.
“This book involves a strongly, even passionately, argued attack on financial regulators
for having made a mess of financial regulation, prior to 2007,” he wrote. “It is beautifully
written, and very well designed to achieve a wide audience of readers who are interested
in the crisis, but we are not necessarily themselves experts."
In the book, Barth, Caprio, and Levine call out the Guardians of Finance, which refers
to the Federal Reserve, Office of the Controller of Currency, Securities Exchange
Commission, U.S. Treasury, and FDIC.
“The financial regulatory authorities are supposed to be the guardians of finance,”
Barth said. “They are supposed to protect the taxpayers and they failed. They failed
us from top to bottom.
Barth said the book covers events from 1995 to the more widespread emergence of the
crisis beginning in the summer of 2007.
“They (regulators) either did things that increased the likelihood of the crisis or
exacerbated the crisis,” Barth added. “This book is about trying to prevent another
financial crisis. In the most recent financial crisis, several trillions of dollars
were lost in home values and millions became unemployed or underemployed.
“Our book is a research book – a book to bring about regulatory change to better serve
the interest of society.”
Caprio, Jr., is William Brough Professor of Economics and Chair of the Center for
Development Economics at Williams College. Levine is Professor of Economics and Director
of the William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance at Brown University.
Barth is no stranger to PROSE awards. He earned honorable mention status in 2009 for
his work “The Rise and Fall of the U.S. Mortgage and Credit Markets” by the Association
of American Publishers.