The global financial crisis of the past decade did not result in sufficient reforms for consumers, governments and institutions due to the overwhelmingly interconnected nature of the entire sector, according to Kathleen C. Engel, associate dean for Intellectual Life at Suffolk University Law School.
Engel is an organizer of and will be a principal speaker at the Third International Business Complexity and Global Leader Conference to take place April 29-May 1 at Suffolk University.
The three-day conference, co-hosted by the Center for Business Complexity and Global Leadership at the Sawyer Business School and Suffolk University Law School, will examine the concrete and complicated components contributing to a single, complex and fluid financial system that was once marked by global borders as well as bricks and mortars. Today, those silos are long gone.
Thus the conference, “Rethinking Policy and Practice in Today’s Financial System,” is drawing global leaders in academic, government and business to outline the social, economic, political and technological factors that drive the realities of modern finance.
Engel, a national expert on mortgage finance and regulation, subprime and predatory lending, and housing discrimination, says the “daisy-chain effect” in place within the global financial community puts it at risk despite years of attempted reforms and corrections. Financial-services entities, including banks, continue to make and leverage deals with each other that create volatile risk not only for the host institution but for the other organizations, and thus the entire system.
“Firms not only risk their own failure, they are carrying risk of the others as well,” she says. In addition, inadequate regulations and fragilities within markets result in a complex interconnectivity that leaves financial organizations vulnerable to “a domino effect. That problem has not been solved.”
Professor Greta Meszoely, director of the Center for Business Complexity and Global Leadership and another conference leader, says that the recent fiscal woes in both Greece and Spain would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. And yet with the emergence of big data as well as these big dependencies, the near-collapse of both economies sent shock waves around the world.
“Who are the market makers?” asks Meszoely. “The policy leaders need to talk to the business leaders” to advance both agendas correctly.
Within the financial sector, Engel recommends transformations that include:
- The break-up of large banks
- Appropriate and adequate regulations and regulators
- Increased transparency for all stakeholders
- Consumer and community input
The last item bears interest in the United States, Engel says. Consumers are increasingly closing their wallets to the larger banks and turning to credit unions and community banks -- which are exempt from many of the regulatory reforms required by the landmark Dodd-Frank Act created as a direct result of the Great Recession.
“This is a concern,” she says, adding that with the increase in activity in the lightly regulated private equity and hedge-fund arenas, “we don’t know what will happen.”
Other conference speakers include:
- Kirsten Moy, The Aspen Institute
- Tamar Frankel, Boston University Law School
- Dmitry Zinoviev, professor, Mathematics and Computer Science, Suffolk University
- Joe Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist, TD Ameritrade
- Alex “Sandy” Pentland, director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program
- Luciano Pietronero, professor of Physics, Sapienza – Università di Roma
The conference will be held at Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St., Boston. Registration is free and open to the University community as well as to the public.