Learning from the crisis

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Great Recession. As some European countries have only now started to recover, societies and politicians understandably want to forget the years of painful austerity and look to the future. But have we learned enough to prevent another crisis? Do we know how our institutions failed us the first time around? And are we confident they are better protected now? Times of crisis may not be ripe moments for learning, as politicians are necessarily in a ‘firefighting’ mode, trying to save the economy and their political careers. Yet as the economy finally stabilizes, a backward-looking mechanism shedding light on the institutional failures that paved the way to the collapse may benefit a society like Spain in a number of ways. In our project we explored the comparative experience of six European countries; we found economic truth commissions offer the best shot at learning.   Economic truth commissions Economic truth commissions are independent fact-finding bodies tasked to document patterns of institutional failures in the run-up to the crisis. They are distinct from other fact-finding bodies. Parliamentary commissions of inquiry are guided by politicians who may lack the expertise to fully understand the technical aspects of […]

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