Liberty, Institutional Size, and ‘Too Big to Fail’ in United States History


This conference addressed the historical development and current debates concerning whether or not large financial institutions are good or bad for the US economy. Do large institutions, with an implicit guarantee of government backing, inevitably introduce moral hazard problems and fail? Or are large financial institutions necessary in today’s complex global economy?


Conference Readings

Frohnen, Bruce P., eds. The American Republic: Primary Sources. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2002.

Baker, Dean and Travis McArthur. “The Value of the `Too Big to Fail’ Subsidy.” Center for Economic and Policy Research, Issue Brief (September 2009): 1-5.

Barth, James R., Gerard Caprio Jr., and Ross Levine. Rethinking Bank Regulation: Till Angels Govern. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Dash, Eric. “If It’s Too Big to Fail, Is It Too Big to Exist?” New York Times (June 20 2009): 1-2.

Folsom, Burton W., Jr. The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America. Herndon: Young America’s Foundation, 2007.

Friedman, Jeffrey and Wladimir Kraus. “A Silver Lining to the Financial Crisis: A More Realistic View of Capitalism.” American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (January 2010): 1-8.

Hawley, Ellis W. The New Deal and the Problem Monopoly: A Study in Economic Ambivalence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966.

Humphrey, Thomas. “Lender of Last Resort: What It Is, Whence It Came, and Why the Fed Isn't It.” Cato Journal 30, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 2010): 333-364.

Johnson, Simon. “The Quiet Coup.” The Atlantic (May 2009): 1-6.

Kuttner, Robert. “The Bubble Economy.” The American Prospect (September 24 2007): 1-6.

Roberts, Russell. “Gambling with Other People's Money: How Perverted Incentives Caused the Financial Crisis.” Mercatus Center (May 2010): 7-9.

Rogers, Wayne. “Congressional Testimony of Wayne Rogers.” House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Issues, Washington, D.C., April 24, 1991.

Selgin, George. Bank Deregulation and Monetary Order. London: Routledge Press, 1996.

Stern, Gary and Ron Feldman. Too Big to Fail: The Hazards of Bank Bailouts. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004.

Wilson, Woodrow. The New Freedom: A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People. New York and Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913, 1918.