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Ross Levine

Ross Levine is the Willis H. Booth Chair in Banking and Finance at the University of California, Berkeley, and Senior Fellow at the Milken Institute.

Titles by This Author

Making Regulators Work for Us

The recent financial crisis was an accident, a “perfect storm” fueled by an unforeseeable confluence of events that unfortunately combined to bring down the global financial systems. Or at least this is the story told and retold by a chorus of luminaries that includes Timothy Geithner, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, and Alan Greenspan.

In Guardians of Finance, economists James Barth, Gerard Caprio, and Ross Levine argue that the financial meltdown of 2007 to 2009 was no accident; it was negligent homicide. They show that senior regulatory officials around the world knew or should have known that their policies were destabilizing the global financial system and yet chose not to act until the crisis had fully emerged.

Barth, Caprio, and Levine propose a reform to counter this systemic failure: the establishment of a “Sentinel” to provide an informed, expert, and independent assessment of financial regulation. Its sole power would be to demand information and to evaluate it from the perspective of the public--rather than that of the financial industry, the regulators, or politicians.

Titles by This Editor

A Cross-Country Comparison of Banks, Markets, and Development

This is the first broad cross-country assessment of the ties between financial structure—the mix of financial instruments, institutions, and markets in a given economy—and economic growth since Raymond Goldsmith's 1969 landmark study. Most studies focus on developed countries and compare bank-based and market-based systems. Debates over the relative merits of the two systems have relied on case studies of Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, countries with similar long-run growth rates. The absence of data on developing countries limits the usefulness of such studies for policy makers.

The book contains recently acquired cross-country data from almost 150 countries. It includes information on the size, efficiency, and activity of banks, insurance companies, pension and mutual funds, finance companies, and stock and bond markets. It also incorporates information on each country's political, economic, and social environment. The chapters contain a mix of case studies, cross-country studies, macro- and micro-oriented approaches, and analytical and empirical work. The conclusions point not to markets versus banks, but to markets and banks. It is how well a financial system functions that is critical for long-run economic growth. The research suggests that strong legal rights for outside investors and the overall efficiency of contract enforcement are effective tools for developing the financial sector and the economy. The book includes a CD containing World Bank data.