Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale have contributed substantially to the study of financial innovation, developing economic models to address the question of whether the market provides institutions and opportunities for individuals to share risks efficiently. In this book they assemble some of their key papers along with a five-chapter overview that not only synthesizes their work but provides a historical and institutional review and a discussion of alternative approaches as well.The lengthy overview surveys the authors' approach to financial innovation, principally their development of a basic theory of risk sharing in an economy with incomplete markets. The first two chapters summarize the history of innovation and illustrate the types of innovation, innovators, and motives for innovation. Chapters three and four look at industrial organization approaches to innovation and outline the authors' theory. The fifth chapter discusses other approaches and an agenda for future research.
Financial systems are crucial to the allocation of resources in a modern economy. They channel household savings to the corporate sector and allocate investment funds among firms; they allow intertemporal smoothing of consumption by households and expenditures by firms; and they enable households and firms to share risks. These functions are common to the financial systems of most developed economies. Yet the form of these financial systems varies widely. In the United States and the United Kingdom competitive markets dominate the financial landscape, whereas in France, Germany, and Japan banks have traditionally played the most important role.Why do different countries have such different financial systems? Is one system better than all the others? Do different systems merely represent alternative ways of satisfying similar needs? Is the current trend toward market-based systems desirable?Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale argue that the view that market-based systems are best is simplistic. A more nuanced approach is necessary. For example, financial markets may be bad for risk sharing; competition in banking may be inefficient; financial crises can be good as well as bad; and separation of ownership and control can be optimal. Financial institutions are not simply veils, disguising the allocation mechanism without affecting it, but are crucial to overcoming market imperfections. An optimal financial system relies on both financial markets and financial intermediaries.
These original essays focus on a wide range of topics related to Frank Hahn's distinguished work in economics. Ranging from market analysis and game theory to the microeconomic foundations of macroeconomics and from equilibrium and optimality with missing markets to economics and society, they reflect the diversity of modem research in economic theory. What distinguishes Hahn's work and many of the essays in this book is that the motivation often comes from practical concerns about unemployment, savings and investment, poverty, or the stability of markets.
The essays in Part I deal with the microeconomic foundations of macroeconomics - a field in which Hahn has made important contributions, most notably in the theory of monetary economics. Topics include an evaluation of Hahn's contribution to the theory of distribution and such macroeconomic themes as coordination failure, multiple equilibria, and strategic issues.
Part II contains recent contributions to game theory reflecting Hahn's interest in the question of what is rational behavior. The essays in Part III concentrate on general-equilibrium theory with missing markets, a field in which Hahn has made major advances. Although the essays address a different set of issues , they share with Hahn's works such themes as market failure, indeterminacy of equilibrium, and the role of money.
Partha Dasgupta is Professor of Economics at Cambridge University. Douglas Gale is Professor of Economics at Boston University. Oliver Hart is Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Eric Maskin is Professor of Economics at Harvard University.