Andrew Haldane, Executive Director of Financial Stability at the Bank of England gave a speech earlier this year which focused on the idea of the global financial system as a complex adaptive system.

In his speech, Haldane focuses on applying the lessons from other network disciplines – such as ecology, epidemiology, biology and engineering – to the financial sphere. Using the complexity lens, he provides an account of the structural vulnerabilities that built-up in the financial system over the past decade. He concludes by suggesting ways of improving the robustness of the financial system in the period ahead.

As Yasmin Merali of Warwick University notes:

The global financial system as a CAS illustrates the importance of network topology and diversity in system robustness and resilience. The density and complexity of the financial network led to profound structural vulnerabilities and amplified uncertainties in the pricing of assets, causing seizures in certain financial markets. Network feedback effects under stress (hoarding of liabilities and fire-sales of assets) coupled with the dominant positions of big players and the erosion of diversity in institutions’ business and risk management strategies resulted in the current crisis.”

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. […] led to serious problems and the need for extensive government intervention down the line (see an earlier post on the financial crisis through a complexity lens). And as I have argued elsewhere: A study of the role of self-organisation in the Rwandan genocide […]

  2. […] previous Aid on the Edge post highlights a speech by the Bank of England’s director of financial stability in which […]

  3. […] notably the so-called ‘Triple F’ crises of food, fuel and finance ( a previous Aid on the Edge of Chaos post highlights how Andy Haldane, a Bank of England director, used complexity science for exactly […]

  4. […] Haldane, a director at the Bank of England, has given numerous speeches in which he talks about enhancing the robustness and resilience of the global financial network […]

  5. […] exemplifies. Andy Haldane, director of the Bank of England,  put the case forward compellingly in a speech covered in a previous Aid on the Edge of Chaos post: …interconnected networks exhibit a knife-edge, or tipping  point, property.  Within a certain […]


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About Ben Ramalingam

I am a researcher and writer specialising on international development and humanitarian issues. I am currently working on a number of consulting and advisory assignments for international agencies. I am also writing a book on complexity sciences and international aid which will be published by Oxford University Press. I hold Senior Research Associate and Visiting Fellow positions at the Institute of Development Studies, the Overseas Development Institute, and the London School of Economics.


Economics, Financial crisis, Networks, Public Policy, Resilience, Strategy