The Rationality of Irrationality in Times of Financial Crises – Economic Modelling – article

The Rationality of Irrationality in Times of Financial Crises

Nicolas Huck, Hareesh Mavoori, Olivier Mesly | Economic Modelling

2019-11-19

Whilst there are many models discussing the mechanics of financial crises, the notion of predation seems to be insufficiently taken into consideration as one of the explanatory behavioral factors, although it would enrich the understanding of dysfunctional financial markets. This paper provides a stylized model for disruptive and toxic economic behaviors in the context of predatory markets like the subprime crisis of 2007–2009. In this context, we investigate why consumers and sellers buy products they know to be toxic. Conventional economic models contain classical tenets that assume that consumers are rational and search for utility maximization; however, these models cannot straightforwardly explain the behaviors consumers and sellers adopted during times of financial crises, known as “exuberantly irrational”. Hence, we use and expand on a predator-prey perspective that endeavors to capture such behaviors more effectively while showing that four market variables must be considered together over time – consumers, suppliers, toxic products and regulations. Our analysis shows that during the GFC, consumers and lenders as well as regulators embraced whole-heartedly, and contrary to common economic sense, the development and marketing of toxic products. Their behaviors were actually quite rational in the context of a poisoned market. Such observation could assist in drafting regulations.

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