Financial Whirlpools,
Edition 1 A Systems Story of the Great Global Recession
By Karen L. Higgins

Publication Date: 25 Apr 2013

How do economists reconcile their expertise with their failures to predict and manage the 2008 financial crisis? This book goes a long way toward an answer by using systems theory to reveal the complex interdependence of factors and forces behind the crisis. In her fully integrated view of the economy, how it works, and how the economic crisis burst, Karen Higgins combines human psychology, cultural values, and belief formation with descriptions of the ways banks and markets succeed and fail. In each chapter she introduces themes from financial crisis literature and brings a systems-theory treatment of them. Her methodology and visual presentations both develop the tools of systems theory and apply these tools to the financial crisis. Not just another volume about the crisis, this book challenges the status quo through its unique multidisciplinary approach.

Key Features

  • Presents a broad global view of international economic health and international corporate health
  • Describes how policies, regulations, and trends dating to the 1950s influenced the crisis
  • Assumes readers possess a general familiarity of economics and finance
About the author
By Karen L. Higgins, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA
Table of Contents


List of Figures and Tables





Introduction: Systems Thinking and the Great Global Recession

Part I: Foundations

Chapter 1. Lines or Circles: The Basics of Systems Thinking

1.1 A Brief History of Systems Thinking

1.2 Application and Relevance of Systems Thinking

1.3 Linear Thinking and Systems Thinking

1.4 Complexity Economics and Systems Thinking

1.5 Systems Thinking Concepts

1.6 Loops

1.7 Lags: Time Delays

1.8 Limits to Growth

1.9 Levers: Points of Power

1.10 Visualization Tools

1.11 System Boundaries

1.12 Systems Thinking Philosophy

1.13 Summary

Chapter 2. As the Gears Turn: Policies, Practices, Markets, and Risk

2.1 Timeline

2.2 Federal Economic Policies

2.3 Home Mortgage Lending Practices

2.4 Markets and Human Behavior

2.5 Housing Market

2.6 Financial Market

2.7 Risk

2.8 Systems Interpretation

2.9 Summary

Part II: The Yin: Human Behaviors

Chapter 3. Where Can I Buy One? Humans and the Economy

3.1 History of Human Psychology in Economic Theory

3.2 The Role of Values and Beliefs in Economics

3.3 The Role of Expectations in Economics

3.4 The Role of Human Nature in Economics

3.5 Summary

Chapter 4. Who Are You Anyway? Values, Beliefs, Norms, and Behaviors

4.1 American Culture

4.2 Corporate Cultures

4.3 Systems Thinking Interpretation

4.4 Summary

Chapter 5. Visions of Grandeur: Expectations and Behaviors

5.1 Expectations and the Economic Environment

5.2 Systems Thinking Interpretation

5.3 Summary

Chapter 6. A Crisis of Human Proportions: Ethics and Behaviors

6.1 Mortgage Fraud

6.2 Disreputable Lending

6.3 Shady Corporate Strategy

6.4 Deceitful Dealings

6.5 Systems Thinking Interpretation

6.6 Summary

Chapter 7. Self Speaks Loudly and Carries a Big Stick: Sources of Unethical Behavior

7.1 Ethics and its Purpose

7.2 Ethical Issue: Self-Interest Versus Social Interest

7.3 Human Nature Traits of Self-Interest

7.4 Societal Needs

7.5 Economic Environment

7.6 Repositories of Moral Grounding

7.7 Concern about Consequences

7.8 Greed and Hubris

7.9 Short-Term Narrow-Focused Rewards

7.10 Historic Precedence

7.11 Systems Thinking Interpretation

7.12 Summary

Part III: The Yang: Economic Mechanisms

Chapter 8. What Goes Up Must Come Down: The Housing Bubble

8.1 Bubble History

8.2 The Rise and Fall of the Housing Bubble

8.3 Affordability and the Housing Bubble

8.4 Supply, Demand, and the Housing Bubble

8.5 Reasons for Supply and Demand Shifts

8.6 Supply and Demand Shift Synopsis

8.7 Systems Thinking Interpretation

8.8 Summary

Chapter 9. On Top of Debt Mountain: High-Risk Loans and Credit

9.1 Journey Segment One: Easy Availability of Credit

9.2 Journey Segment Two: High-Risk Loans

9.3 Journey Segment Three: Accumulation of Debt

9.4 Journey Segment Four: Defaults, Bankruptcies, and Foreclosures

9.5 Systems Thinking Interpretation

9.6 Summary

Chapter 10. The Risk Tiger Pounces: Financial Market, Risk, and Securitization

10.1 Securitization, Structuring, and Derivatives in the Financial Market

10.2 Systems Thinking Interpretation

10.3 Summary

Part IV: Yin and Yang: Integration

Chapter 11. Human Roots Are Deep: Yin Meets Yang

11.1 Expectations

11.2 Self-Interest and Social Interest

11.3 Material Desires

11.4 Greed

11.5 Economic Environment

11.6 Search for Meaning

11.7 Systems Thinking Interpretation

11.8 Summary

Chapter 12. It’s a Small World After All: Global Implications and the Road Ahead

12.1 Economic Truths about the Crisis

12.2 Summary of Crisis Dynamics

12.3 An Expanded Systems Perspective

12.4 Conclusions from the Expanded Systems View

12.5 Systems Thinking as a Tool

12.6 Effectiveness of Current Economic Policies

12.7 Yin and Yang Reprise

12.8 Implications for the Future

12.9 Concluding Remarks


A.1 Relationship between Supply and Demand

A.2 Systems Thinking Interpretation

A.3 Summary




Book details
ISBN: 9780124059054
Page Count: 400
Retail Price : £31.99
  • Freedman. Introduction to Financial Technology. 9780123704788. April 2006. 368 pp., $79.95.
  • Kendall. Electronic and Algorithmic Trading Techniques. 9780123724915. June 2007. 224 pp., $67.95
  • Khanna. Straight Through Processing for Financial Services. 9780124664708. November 2007. 264 pp., $79.95

Primary: upper-division undergraduates and graduate students worldwide studying the 2008 financial crisis and financial crises in general.

Secondary: people interested in financial risk management and operational research.