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The Fallacy Underlying the Cause of Irish Bank Failures

The following letter was written in response to an article, published by the Financial Times, entitled "Anglo Irish Bank executive appears in court after US extradiction" by Vincent Boland.

The failure of Anglo Irish Bank–whatever the reason–did not cause the collapse of other financial institutions. Mr. Boland’s article leads one to view banks as dominoes in which one collapse necessarily leads to the collapse of all, but such is not the case. Something more fundamental was at work that led to what the great Austrian school economist Murray N. Rothbard called a “cluster of errors.”

Why should all banks collapse at roughly the same moment? Some banks may have invested unwisely or suffered from incompetent or even criminal management, but why all banks? We don’t see this in other industries. For example, a restaurant’s failure does not lead to a collapse of the restaurant industry, or an airline’s demise does not lead to the collapse of all airlines.

But banking is different. Banking is subject to adverse consequences stemming from the manipulation of the interest rate, usually downward, by the central bank. More businesses appear to be eligible for bank loans at the lower interest rate. The subsequent increase in lending causes an artificial and unsustainable boom that eventually must be liquidated due to lack of real capital. Anglo Irish Bank was the first to succumb to this central bank caused collapse, but it did not cause the collapse of other Irish banks. That bill may be delivered to the central bank itself.

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