THE BROOKINGS PANEL ON ECONOMIC ACTIVITY held its eightysixth
conference in Washington, D.C., on September 11 and 12, 2008.
Several of the conference papers examine aspects of the current financial
crisis: the relationships among recent global financial imbalances, mortgage
lending, and volatile commodity prices; the errors made by lenders in
judging subprime mortgages and instruments derived from them to have
fairly low credit risk; the effect of mortgage foreclosures on the dynamics
of home prices; the impact of mortgage credit losses on the supply of
credit; and the implications for financial regulation of spillovers from failing
financial institutions. The remaining papers deal with the role of the
unofficial economy in economic development, and the effect of an undervalued
currency on economic growth in developing countries. This issue
of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity presents the seven papers
from the conference, comments by the formal discussants, and synopses
of the discussions of the papers by conference participants.