The Brooks Family Lecture: “Ten Years after the Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences”

As part of the Brooks Family Lecture series, Aaron Klein ’98 gave a lecture entitled “Ten Years after the Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences”.

Aaron Klein elucidated the consequences and causes of the 2007-2008 financial crisis by detailing how the “perfect storm” of factors combined led to the financial crisis. In particular, he focused on the convergence of the housing bubble and the proliferation of new financial instruments that decoupled loan repayment from profitability origination. He then transitioned into an overview of how repeated warnings about predatory lending practices and subprime mortgages went unheeded. Klein contended that Glass-Steagall would not have prevented the financial crisis because most of the subprime mortgage players—Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, among others—would not have been impacted, and also argued that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not responsible for the crisis because they did not originate any mortgages.

Klein’s presentation described the consequences of this crisis particularly in the aftermath of the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s passage. He discussed how bank bailouts and the lack of convictions for major executives involved in the financial crisis were responsible for the rise of the Tea Party and, eventually, the Trump presidency as voters came to identify with messages criticizing the American political system as beholden to interest groups and corporate influence.

His lecture represented not only a professional opportunity to discuss a field about which he is passionate, but also the opportunity to return to Dartmouth and participate in a class visit in the Sociology of Globalization class taught by Sociology Professor John Campbell, a faculty lunch, and a student dinner.

Hailing from the Class of 1998, Klein spent much time sitting in the Class of 1930 Room probably doing homework, possibly chatting with friends, but also envisioning his name on one of the plaques on the wall and projecting a future that would make that possible. When asked what his philosophy is for pursuing any dream, he responded, “Never fear failure, only regret.” He continued by saying if you really want to do something, do it. If it doesn’t work, that’s fine. Everyone at Dartmouth has the ability to succeed and fail, embrace both. Klein ended the interview by posing two questions, “What do you want to do and why aren’t you doing this?,” which are at the crux of pursuing any dream. 

Contributed to by Mariah Reese ’17 and Bryan Bliek ’18, Student Program Assistants for Public Programs