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From Hubris to Nemesis: Irish Banks, Behavioral Biases, and the Crisis

This paper, with Michael Dowling of DCU, takes a look at the behavioral aspects of Irish banks over the crisis period. It is forthcoming in Journal of Risk Management in Financial Institutions, next march. A final version can be downloaded from the link.

Abstract

“The collapse of the Irish economy, still ongoing after five years, has its roots firmly in the banking sector. Lax risk management, aided by poor board oversight and behavioral biases among senior executives, is now viewed as one of the primary causes of the over- lending during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ years which fueled the excessive growth in credit and subsequent banking implosion, eventually resulting in all Irish banks ending in state ownership. We approach the causes of the Irish banking sector collapse from a behavioural perspective of the role of Boards of Directors in bank risk management, and then proceed to explore the likely presence of behavioral biases among senior executives in Irish banks. The Irish context provides a pertinent case study of what can happen when hubris and associated behavioural biases take control of a bank’s risk management strategy.”

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